ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Wednesday directed the Ministry of Climate Change to take necessary actions to stop mushroom growth of commercial and residential plazas along Murree Expressway as it was detrimental to the environment.

The direction was issued after members of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change expressed concern over the loss of precious lives following a blizzard in Murree.

The committee directed the ministry to develop proper liaison with ministries and departments concerned so that such incidents could be avoided in future.

The Pakistan Environmental Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021, moved by MNA Ali Gohar Khan was discussed.

The committee’s chairperson, MNA Munaza Hassan, directed officials to arrange a meeting with the mover of the bill and the Ministry of Law and Justice so that loopholes (if any) in the proposed legislation could be addressed.

Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, while responding to queries of committee members, said natural calamities like the blizzard that

recently took place in Murree would occur with increasing propensity in the future as these were consequences of climate change.

“It will be better if we build better resilience and management to cope with such a situation in the future,” he said, adding upgradation of early warning systems and weather monitoring stations across the country was underway.

“Early warning and proper disaster management plans and responses in place can help amicably reduce risk of human and collateral damage in disaster prone regions,” he added.

Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said her office was also working with the Punjab Tourism Department to introduce new tourism sites to reduce pressure on winter tourism and develop capacity to cater to the overwhelming tourist influx.

In response to a question, Ms Gul said a ‘Water Table Regulatory Authority’ was also being proposed by her ministry to regulate groundwater extraction across the country.

She pointed out that the Ministry of Water Resources had raised an objection about formulation of the authority, saying that this was their official domain.

Ms Hassan suggested to the Ministry of Water Resources to let the climate ministry take the project forward.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2022

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