Deforestation serious threat to agro-based economy
June 08, 2011: Almost 41,000 hectares of forests have been removed since 1947, while deforestation of 27,000 hectares is taking place annually, which is a serious threat to agro-based economy along with environment. This was stated by Minister for Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo, while responding to a call attention notice on behalf of Minister for Environment in National Assembly on Tuesday.
The call attention notice was moved by Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Farah Naz Ispahani, Yasmeen Rehman and others, who expressed serious concerns over the rapid deforestation throughout the country. Watto, while responding to a query said that the deforestation was a matter of concern, adding it will have serious repercussions on the environment. He said, though, there was no proper mechanism to collect exact data of deforestation in the country, however, referred to a report published in 2010, which says that around 41,000 hectares of forests have been removed so far and around 27,000 acres deforestation was taken place annually.
He said under 18th amendment, the Ministry of Environment was being devolved to the provinces and responsibility rests with them to check the deforestation, adding the provinces paid no heed towards forestation in past and thousands of acres of forest land were given for establishing schools.
While giving example of India, where he said the deforestation has significantly been reduced. He suggested that both the federal and provincial governments should make legislation in this regard to protect the forests as well as environment of the country.
Watto stressed the need for paying special attention to bring more and more area under forest, which would be in the greater national interests. He added that environment is provincial subject and the main responsibility rests with the provinces to take serious measures in this regard. To a question, the minister said that the ministry would take action against those factories that were creating pollution in the environment.
Speaker National Assembly, Dr Fehmida Mirza said that pollution was a serious issue and the provinces should keep strict check to ensure pollution-free environment. Meanwhile, responding to another call attention notice, Minister for Water and Power, Syed Naveed Qamar informed the House that the recent increase in power tariff was made due to adjustment of fuel surcharge.
He said that the government did not increase the power tariff in the recent past rather, added that it was now being subsidised. He further said that until 2010 the power tariff has been decreased six times while it has been increased only for three times, he added. He admitted inefficiency in reducing the line losses, however, added that efforts were underway to reduce the same.
The call attention notice was moved by Pervaiz Malik, Nisar Tanveer and others regarding increase in the electricity tariff. The members expressed concerns saying that electricity was not available for the masses and they were facing prolonged loadshedding while on the other hand tariff is being increased. “The entire country is fed up of the excessive loadshedding while its tariff is being increased time and again,” said Malik, who also alleged the inability of the rulers in solving the energy crisis in the country.