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PEPC to discuss smog, other issues on 17th

Will review current state of environment in province, progress on previous meeting’s decisions

The Punjab government approved the schedule of the fifth meeting of Punjab Environmental Protection Council (PEPC) on Tuesday.

The meeting will be held on December 17 in committee room of Services and General Administrative Department’s meeting room under the chairmanship of Punjab Environment Protection Minister Muhammad Rizwan and will discuss various issues of importance.

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The fourth meeting of the PEPC was held on January 7, 2020. The previous meeting of PEPC, held under the chairmanship of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, was focused on the rising level of air pollution in Lahore and other parts of the province.

The environment protection minister informed the members of the council about the efforts the Environment Protection Department (EPD) had made to tackle the environmental challenges. The meeting decided to take various steps, including the appointment of permanent technical staff in EPD, constitution of a committee to review the air quality index specified in Smog Policy 2017, and zoning of metal processing units in Gujranwala division.

The PEPC approved the initiation of and publication of Punjab Environmental Report on the state of environmental in the province in terms of section 6 (1) (d) of Punjab Environmental Protection Act (PEPA) 1997.

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According to the decisions of the fourth meeting, this was also approved to formulate the Punjab Climate Change Policy, besides the establishment of Provincial Sustainable Development Fund as Environmental Endowment Fund under Punjab Green Development Program.

However, most of the decisions of fourth PEPC meeting could not be implemented in letter and spirit. A member of PEPC, seeking anonymity, said that Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for implementing the decisions taken in the PEPC meeting but it badly failed in performing its duties. He said that the Punjab government itself was not serious in implementing the decisions as it could not appoint a permanent EPD secretary and EPA’s director general.

On the other hand, Environment Protection Minister Muhammad Rizwan was of the view that not a single matter of significance was left unattended despite the transfer and postings of several officials. He, however, said that a few decisions taken in PEPC were delayed due to the pandemic.

According to the agenda, PEPC in its fifth meeting will review the implementation status of decisions of the previous meeting. At least 10 issues will be discussed in the meeting, including abolishing small resource-recovery unit all over the Punjab, action over use of sub-standard fuels, safe disposal of hospital waste, conversion of brick kilns to zig-zag technology, controlling vehicular pollution, installation of air pollution control systems in industries, stone crushing in province, dust and roadside encroachments and daily smog forecasting.

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