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Senate panel wants better parameters for replacing trees

A panel of parliamentarians called for developing a set of parameters to check the type, life and carbon stored in trees which are expected to be felled to make way for any development project.

The Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change met at Parliament House with Senator Mir Yousaf Badini in the chair, to discuss the agenda of National Disaster Management Authority amendment bill- 2017.

The meeting discussed National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Bill-2017 presented by Senator Mian Attique Shaikh. Both, the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) supported the proposed amendments while proposing slight changes including to set up efforts for rehabilitation of flood affectees with special reference towards women and children, provision of shelter and livelihood support to landless rural women.

However, the MoCC and NDMA both disagreed with amendments which proposed restoring livelihoods of affected people through provision of agriculture inputs and introducing comprehensive agriculture rehabilitation package. They were of the view that restoration of livelihood by providing agriculture inputs was not a direct responsibility of NDMA.

Noting that since they server the same purpose, officials said that the NDMA was working to merge relevant laws including the Earthquake Rehabilitation Authority (ERA), NDMA and National Climate Change Policy Act.

Officials from the Law Ministry, however, pointed out that once the three laws are merged, NDMA’s jurisdiction may actually shrink.

At this, Climate Change Minister Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that the Law Ministry should provide its proposals in this regard.

The panel was told that revisions in NDMA Act 2010 have been processed and draft amendments are being sent to all provincial disaster management authorities (PDMAs) for their necessary feedback.

NDMA Chairman Lieutenant General Omer Mehmood Hayat supported the proposed amendment regarding gender sensitivity in disaster management.

A committee was also constituted comprising of Senator Ahmed Hassan and Senator Mian Muhammad Ateeq Sheikh to discuss legalities with Ministry of Law and Justice.

Tree cover

Badini observed that there was need for better coordination between the relevant ministries since small saplings were being planted to replace fully grown trees which have been uprooted. Moreover, he added that artificial paper flowers were being installed on different roundabouts and green belts in the capital to make up for the loss of flora.

He asked the climate change minister to try and include the issue of tree cutting in the agenda of the federal cabinet’s next meeting.

The minister told the committee that there was technology which can uproot, transport and plant fully grown trees from one location to another.  “We should try to get that technology to save trees during construction work,” Mushahidullah said.

Moreover, he said that there was a need to introduce legislation which would ensure that 100 tress are planted in advance to replace any tree which is damaged during any construction and development work. Mushahidullah said that the United Nations’ charter demands that there should 25 per cent of forest cover on the total land of a country. Pakistan, he lamented, only has five per cent forest coverage.

Reporter. Senate panel wants better parameters for replacing trees. The Express Tribune, October 31, 2017.

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