Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed along with Senator Farhatullah Babar, Senator Dr. Saeeda Iqbal, Senator Hidayatullah and MNA Maryam Aurangzeb appeared as “Crusaders for Environment” while convening the second public hearing of the sub-committee on environment. Environment is definitely back on the agenda and seems to be there to stay!
Noting the recent positive developments, Capital Development Authority’s “Green and Clean Islamabad” initiative was profusely lauded as being the need of the hour. “Pakistan is among the top 10 countries of the world listed to be environmentally vulnerable and has experienced intense weather aberrations with floods costing us US$ 15 billion in losses,” the Senator pointed out. Particularly heartening was to see the parliamentarians taking environmental protection as an above party line, national issue, cognizant that it may in the long run translate in to a food and water security crisis.
It was promising to see the hearing rising above “all-talk-no-walk” course and actually demanding, recommending and implementing practical measures and plans of action for environmental protection. Many observers silently cheered as the CDA, for the time in its history, was made to account for the state of affairs. The sub-committee meant business!
One measure that caught the eye was the ingenious CDA hotline, directed by Senator Mushahid Hussain, which will be available around the clock. Witness an environmental crime or violation? Now one only has to dial 1334 to register complaints for the CDA to take action within 24 hours.
The acute parking crisis witnessed by the capital in recent times was also addressed. Senator Mushahid Hussain called for specific parking garages to be allotted in every commercial area, given rapid expansions in the form of new plazas and malls. “Not only this, but there should also parking areas, pathways and washrooms for physically challenged segments of the society,” the Senator added on a side note.
Furthermore, a complete elimination of plastic bags would be an integral part of the Green and Clean campaign on which the government, private sector and public will join hands. The plastic bags have become an omniscient menace in the city; spotting green belts and parks, clogging drainage network, and starring every nook and cranny.
Not only this, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed also obtained a deadline of 30th June, 2014 from the CDA for implementation its solid waste management plan for the city which produces 550 to 600 tons of waste every day with no permanent disposal system in place.
A system of monitoring and evaluation of all measures became apparent when, with reference to the first public hearing, the Senator asked for a compliance report on the 16 illegal stone crushers operating in Margalla Hills. The CDA rejoined that all stone crushers will be demolished within the next two weeks with the assistance of Rawalpindi administration and ICT. The Senator appreciated this plan and subsequently commissioned Sustainable Development Policy Institute to document the compliance of this to ensure an independent monitoring.
The most amazing aspect of the public hearing was the way in which it drew enthusiastic and candid participation from the civil society and common citizens of Islamabad, particularly the leaders of the Islamabad Green Movement, Christina Afridi and Dr. Dushka Saiyid. There was an outpour of complaints and violation reports which were duly taken up by the Convener in the discussion with the CDA and the ministry. The regiments from the public have surely owned the cause.
The next public hearing has been scheduled for 25th February which will follow up on the issues cited. Here is to the drum beat for environmental protection!