ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change on Wednesday summoned the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman and the head of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) for repeatedly failing to attend its meetings.

The committee has been seeking information on measures taken by the CDA and MCI to control solid waste discharged by the Monal and La Montana restaurants in Margalla Hills National Park, which is protected under the Islamabad Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Ordinance 1979.

Committee members believed that restaurants situated in the park were polluting the protected environment by discharging solid waste and sewage.

They expressed displeasure after officials from the CDA and MCI failed to submit lease agreements and details of rent collection from the two restaurants and other such establishments in the park area; documents that the committee has demanded for its last three meetings.

The committee therefore exercised its powers and directed for summons to be issued to the heads of both organisations to attend its next meeting on March 26.

The session also took up an agenda items under which the Ministry of Climate Change briefed the parliamentarians on a proposal relating to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) in respect of Ministry of Climate Change and its attached departments, if any, for the financial year 2020-21. After a thorough discussion the committee unanimously approved the proposals for the financial year 2020-21.

In addition, the committee directed the ministry to arrange a briefing at its next meeting on the 10 Billion Tree initiative about how many saplings have been planted in the present government’s tenure across the country.

Climate Change Secretary Naheed Durrani told committee members that the government planned to plant 3.9 billion saplings under this initiative in the next four years, at a cost of Rs125 billion.

“The goal is to plant 10bn saplings depending on funding,” Ms Durrani said.

The government planned to plant 466 million saplings in the next four years in Punjab, of which 45pc or 200m would be planted on private land.

The objective is to increase green cover to mitigate emissions and link livelihoods with plantation programmes.

The committee constituted a subcommittee with terms of reference on the protection of forests, and MNA Sabir Hussain Kaim Khan has been appointed its convener.

The committee members also felt that while the government was focused on increasing green cover from 4pc to 5pc in the country, it was ignoring the capital. MNA Shaista Pervaiz complained that she saw more trees being cut than being planted.

The parliamentarians also approved the government’s Global Change Impact Students Centre (Amendment) Bill 2019 with minor amendments, and demanded that the ministry form a government policy on electric vehicles expected to be launch in the near future.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2020