RAWALPINDI, June 8: Pakistan has become the first in Asia and third in world after Argentina and Brazil in terms of housing over 1,450 CNG stations while 1,000 more are under construction and the sector has attracted investment of Rs60 billion creating 60,000 jobs across the county, reveals the Economic Survey launched here on Friday.
It states that in 1999, there were only 62 CNG stations in the country with only 60,000 CNG-converted vehicles which increased to 1,450 in 2007 while the vehicles using gas has switched over to 1.4 million to date.
Major cities in the country including Karachi, Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad are rapidly phasing out diesel vehicles in favour of CNG buses for intra-city transportation.
The survey says that the government was boosting CNG sector in a move to overcome vehicular pollution and was encouraging gas sector as cleaner alternative for improving ambient air quality.
The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has so far issued more than 5,700 provisional licenses for the establishment of CNG stations across the country while the government is providing incentives regarding purchasing of new CNG vehicles.
It says that the government’s millennium development goal (MDG) target for number of vehicles using CNG was 920,000 whereas the current figure was 1.4 million and had achieved the target in advance.
Despite increasing the number of CNG stations across the country, the content of sulphur in air due to the use of high speed diesel was one per cent as against the target of 0.5 to 0.25 set in the MDG for 2015.
The Economic Survey has also acknowledged that absence of public transport service in major cities and the increasing number of private cars was deteriorating air quality and recommends proper transport service for these cities.
Elaborating the government’s policies on environment, the survey reveals a horrific situation of atmosphere in both urban and rural areas of the country saying that the National Environment Action Programme (NEAP) started in 2001 was aimed at coping with these concerns.
WATER AND SANITATION: According to the survey, the country’s current supply of water was just a little over 1,000 cubic meter per person which puts Pakistan in the category of ‘high stress’ countries.
“In the light of growing population, rapid urbanisation and extended periods of drought, an additional 48 billion cubic meter water would be required to meet the demands of agriculture and country’s economy by 2011,” it adds.
The excessive withdrawal of ground water has made 70 per cent tubewells pumping hazardous water and was a source of contaminated drinking water.
LAND: Out of the total land area of 79.6 million hectares, only 16 million hectares are suitable for irrigated farming in the country which is not satisfactory according to the survey.
About 5.2 per cent of Pakistan’s land area is covered by forests whereas both environmental and economic standard necessitate that country should have at least 20-25 per cent area under forests.
The economic survey has identified a number of challenges faced to government over the improvement of environment and has acknowledged the ambient air and water quality in the country.