ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body on Wednesday expressed dismay over illegal housing societies causing damage to the environment of the federal capital.

During a meeting of the Standing Committee on Climate Change which was chaired by Member of National Assembly (MNA) Nuzhat Pathan, it was pointed out that in order to protect the environment, the Ministry of Climate Change should adopt a more crystal clear criteria for giving approval to these housing societies. The committee on climate change took up various issues pertaining to the federal capital.

The committee, particularly took notice of illegal housing societies, that had violated environmental laws. In the past, CDA had also been accused of working with housing societies especially illegal ones and watching their interests at the cost of environmental degradation.

Nonetheless, in December last year, the Court of Senior Special Magistrate of Capital Development Authority (CDA) issued arrest warrants for several housing society operators and individuals for environmental degradation in sector H-17. The court directed the police to arrest violators of environment laws and present them in the court of the Special Magistrate.

Similarly in January, a major housing society, in violation of its approved layout plan, had been making high-rise commercial buildings on the right-of-way of Soan River.

The chairman of CDA Noorul Amin Mengal briefed committee members about illegal societies, water sewerage and outsourcing of waste management.

The committee appreciated efforts of the CDA chairman for taking measures on this sensitive issue. The committee also recommended installing water consumption meters to save the precious resource.

The Directors of National Institute of Health (NIH) and Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS) apprised the members about the efforts they were making for allergy patients suffering from high pollen count from mulberry trees.

The committee directed the Ministry of Climate Change to get rid of these trees as they were causing serious respiratory ailments and pollen allergy.

The committee expressed its displeasure with inspector general police (IGP) Islamabad for not attending the meeting in person. The committee members pointed out that he must ensure his presence and brief members on the attack on director general of Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) by the staff of Savour Foods in 2019.

DG EPA had been doing rounds with her team to ensure implementation of the ban on use of single use plastic bags by corner shops and big general stores and cash and carry alike. During one raid, by a team of Pak-EPA, headed by its DG, Farzana Altaf Shah, Savour Foods was found violating the ban on single use plastic bags, which have been declared hazardous to both human health and the environment.

The secretary Climate Change apprised the NA Committee about bringing new regulations to ban not only plastic bags but also disposable plastic.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2023

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