GILGIT: Members on both treasury and opposition benches in the Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Ass­embly have expressed concern over rapid melting of glaciers and called upon the federal government to take measures for mitigating its impact so that environmental disasters in the region could be avoided.

Changing weather patterns are adversely affecting lives of people living along the Indus River.

Through an adjournment motion moved by Pakistan Peoples Party member Imran Nadeem Shigri on Friday, the assembly urged the prime minister to increase funding for GB so that it could be able to establish protective walls along rivers which would help in preventing land erosion from floods.

“Glaciers in the region are melting speedily,” Mr Shigri said.

The lawmaker called for providing information to the assembly about measures the government had so far taken to deal with environmental degradation.

He said more floods were expected this year in the region due to the climate change, adding that they would affect people living near rivers and along canals.

Deputy Speaker Jaffarullah Khan said that because of the changing weather patterns, less amounts of snowfall and rainfall were recorded in GB this year, adding that massive deforestation was the main cause of floods.

“Millions of cubic feet of wood are being cut illegally in GB annually and no action has been taken against people involved in this illegal practice,” the deputy speaker said.

Opposition member Kacho Imtiaz Haider alleged that funds allocated for plantation of trees had been embezzled by the department concerned.

Information Minister Iqbal Hassan admitted that the GB government had not done much in this regard.

PTI member Raja Jahanzeb Khan said global warming was an international problem. He held developed countries major responsible for global warming and said developing countries were the victims of it.

He said electricity and natural gas should be provided to GB residents so that cutting of trees could be stopped in the region.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2018

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