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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Climate Change has expressed concern over the ‘dismal’ performance of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) in maintaining as well as improving the environmental standards and dealing with the elements causing environmental hazards.

In this context, the committee has asked the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) to formulate a comprehensive set of proposals aimed at improving Pak-EPA’s performance keeping in view the serious shortcomings the agency is presently faced with.

The NA panel met on Monday under the chair of Munaza Hassan from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). In the meeting, the committee members were of the view that Pak-EPA was “unable to play an impressive role in discharging its duties due to lack of manpower, infrastructure and allocation of budget.”

The committee chairperson said the role of Pak-EPA was “reduced to a mere ceremonial entity.”

The agency was unable to check and stop serious violations of the environmental restrictions imposed by the government in order to maintain the environmental standards, she added.

“The Ministry of Climate Change may come up with the proposals to provide missing facilities to Pak-EPA so that the committee can take them at appropriate forum for their amicable solution in order to achieve the targets set by the government,” she added.

The committee recommended that Pak-EPA should act in coordination with Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) “prior to initiate any action against violators in order to avoid any mishap in future.”

Secretary Climate Change Capt Sikander Qayyum (retd) received tough questions from the committee regarding delay in framing different rules related to climate change. The secretary declined to give any exact timeframe in this regard, adding that federal government was trying to frame the related rules at the earliest.

Moreover, the committee sought a briefing, in its next meeting, from MoCC on Pakistan’s participation in the recently held 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), in Glasgow, United Kingdom, from October 31 to November 12.

It merits recalling here that Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member Riaz Fatyana from PTI recently accused his own party colleagues — PM’s Advisor on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam and Climate Change State Minister Zartaj Gul of engaging into a ‘brawl’ with one another at COP26. However, both the cabinet members have denied this allegation.

Meanwhile, the climate change state minister briefed the NA committee about the efforts of federal government to improve environmental standards through a host of initiatives. The government is following the policy of austerity by cutting unnecessary expenditure, she said.

Apart from senior government officials concerned, Members National Assembly (MNAs); Tahir Sadiq, Andleeb Abbas, Dr Seemi Bokhari, Naureen Farooq, Sabir Kaim Khani, Rubina Irfan, Tahira Aurangzeb, Musarrat Asif Khawaja, Zahra Wadood Fatemi among others attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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