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ISLAMABAD: Around 500 students from different educational institutions took part in an eco-friendly walk and cleaned Margalla Hills Trail 3.

The ‘Mountain eco-friendly walk’ was jointly organised by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Development Communication Network to commemorate the International Mountain Day.

“Mountains offer challenges to people to step up for ultimate pleasure of climbing them. Unfortunately, we, the visitors, don’t have ethics to behave with nature. Mountains get us water, a basic resource for life, but we waste it,” said Huma Tariq, a university student.

Another student, Ihra Siddiqui, said: “I would ask the Trail-3 visitors not to litter here. The mountains cannot clean themselves.”

She said the government should formulate environment-friendly development policies. Margalla Hills are part of the national park but unfortunately all the basic principles of the national park are compromised on.

“Human activity has disturbed the area’s biodiversity, generating solid waste and garbage,” said Ali Chaudhry, another student.

“Being part of the Pakistan Mountain Festival activities, I believe that students would learn the practical approach to what they study in their classrooms,” said Dr Mohammad Arshad, an assistant professor at Nust.

Speaking on the occasion, CDA member environment Syed Mustafain Kazmi said mountains were an asset and there was a need to conserve and protect them.

“Not only biodiversity but also life will be in danger if we do not conserve our natural resources. We need to get the mountains cleaned on a regular basis,” he said.

Increasing floods, heavy rains and droughts are evidence of the climate change, he added.

Amanullah Khan, the UNDP assistant country director environment and climate change, said the International Mountain Day highlighted the importance of mountains for life.

“Our mountains are a rich hub of biological diversity that contains many rare herbs and shrubs that are used in medicines. We need to conserve and harvest them in a more nature-friendly way,” he said.

Munir Ahmed, the director DEVCOM-Pakistan and the festival director, said the main objective of the event was to sensitise and mobilise youth for the conservation and protection of the mountain environment that was the backbone of life in the highlands and downstream.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2014