Experts call for immediate measures to tackle climate challenges in AJK
MUZAFFARABAD – Environmentalists and civil society representatives have urged the government to take immediate measures to tackle the deteriorating environmental situation in the region of Azad Kashmir.
They expressed their views in a virtual panel discussion hosted by the Press for Peace Foundation UK. The event was hosted by Mazhar Iqbal Mazhar. Speakers at the panel discussion included Raja Muhammad Razzaq, a member of IUCN and former DG, Environment Protection Agency (EPA), activist Faisal Jamil Kashmiri, and Shahid Awan, a civil society leader.
Environmentalist Dr. Baseeruddin Qureshi, Estonian-based Kashmiri environmentalist Fahad Ali Kazmi, Director EPA Shafiq Abbasi, Director Press for Peace Foundation UK Prof. Zafar Iqbal, Urban Planning Specialist Haseeb Khawaja and other speakers also addressed the gathering.
Speakers said that the EPA’s recommendations have been ignored. The sewage treatment plant for Muzaffarabad, greater water supply scheme and solid waste management projects were not made. No trees were planted on the banks of rivers in Muzaffarabad, no water bodies were made, and garbage and hospital waste is being dumped in the river.
The ecological balance of wild and aquatic life disappears, and fish from Neelum to Nauseri are endangered.
The panelists demand immediate action to protect the region’s natural resources, aquatic and wildlife, and civil rights. They also emphasized the need for the construction of bridges and underpasses for wildlife, and the establishment of environmental magistrate courts, and environmental tribunals.
Climate change threatens future glacier destruction, rising temperatures, and human migration, they said.
Raja Mohammad Razzaq urged the civil society to play a leading role in saving natural resources and the environment. The biggest reason for the growing environmental problems is the lack of political will because political parties have no interest in environmental issues, he added.
He said that attention is not given to the environment in development projects. He also called for restoration of the EPA’s Environmental Council.
Social activist Faisal Jameel Kashmiri called for launching the sewage treatment plants and tree plantation along the river to protect the environment. He demanded that there should be an environmental magistrate and an environmental tribunal.
Environmental expert Dr. Basiruddin Qureshi said that wild and aquatic life in Azad Kashmir was a great blessing for the local population. With the increase in human population, the burden on forests has increased and the incidence of collisions between humans and wild animals was increasing.
Shahid Awan said that the government should clarify its eco-tourism policy to protect the natural resources amid growing tourism in the region.
Prof. Zafar Iqbal said that Press for Peace Foundation has been working on social and environmental issues for the last two decades in a voluntary spirit. Climate change is one of the most important issues of the day, and workshops, panel discussions, and other programs for public awareness will be spread across the state.
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