125,000 trees to mark Environment Day
By Khawaja Naseer
LAHORE: The district government will commemorate Environment Day in collaboration with the provincial Environment Department on June 5, on the theme ‘Desert and Decentralisation’.
District government officials told Daily Times the Punjab Forestry Department (PFD) and the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) would begin a tree-planting campaign in which 125,000 trees would be planted in Lahore and a number of seminars and awareness programmes would be organised.
A meeting of senior officials of the PFD and the PHA was held on Tuesday to discuss the campaign, and the CDGL and the PHA will mark sites for the trees soon.
The Punjab government had allocated Rs 822 million for the environment in the 2005-06 budget, but experts said the sum was not enough to deal with serious water and air pollution problems the province was having.
According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study, about five percent of all deaths in developing countries are caused by exposure to particulate matter. Of the 63,375 deaths in Lahore every year, 1,267 are because of exposure to particulate matter.
Atmospheric pollution has had a strong impact on daily life in the past several years, especially in Lahore, an urban centre. Motor vehicles are a major source of air pollution. Lahore’s Particulate Matter level is several times higher than the WHO standard of 150 milligrammes per cubic metre. According to a survey conducted by city’s heath department, around 70 percent of water being supplied to various localities of the city was contaminated, after which the district government launched a chlorination campaign and installed water filters.
District Environment Officer Tariq Zaman said the district government had taken major steps to combat pollution this year, the most important of which was banning two-stroke and motorcycle rickshaws that cause 65 percent of vehicular pollution. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) two-stroke engines emit 30 percent unburnt fuel.
Tariq Zaman said that about 15 percent of vehicular pollution was caused by buses and vans, and the remaining 20 percent by private trucks, tractors and cars.
Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) officials said that they had devised a detailed plan to overcome water pollution. They said WASA had begun water sampling and consumers had been told to contact the agency with complaints.