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Housing societies have no environment plans: EPD official

LAHORE: Housing societies of the city do not have an environment plan approved by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the agency has not made a law to induce these housing societies to quantify trees on their land to protect the city’s environment, an Environment Protection Department (EPD) official told Daily Times on Sunday.

He said the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Model Town Society and many other societies did not have any scientific “Land Use Planning” (LUP) under an approved environment plan to ensure a specific number of trees on their land.

PEPA: He said Section 12 of the Pakistan Environment Protection Act (PEPA) 1997 only described the quality of landscape for a housing society. He said the newly set up housing societies had no trees, since the PEPA was silent on the issue.

He said the sustainability of trees was the EPA’s responsibility, but the agency had failed to ensure this. The EPA had never issued any Environmental Protection Order against any individual for removing trees, he said, adding that it was a major flaw in the EPA’s system.

He said that in 2007, several housing societies of the city were fined Rs 100,000 each by the environmental tribunal for not getting the environmental approval from the EPA. The agency never insisted the housing societies on tree plantation and scientific LUP, he added.

DHA secretary: DHA Secretary Aamir Ayub told Daily Times that the DHA was not bound to get an environmental approval from any government agency. He said the DHA had recently planted around 5,000 trees in Phase 5.

Flaw: EPA Additional Director General (ADG) Dr Shagufta Shahjahan said there was a flaw in PEPA, since its Section 12 about the environmental approval only described the quality of landscape and not the quantity of tree a society must plant on its land.

Amendment: She said the EPA send proposals to its federal division to amend Section 12 of PEPA. It would be proposed that all housing schemes, societies and authorities be bound to plant a specific number of trees, she added.

She said the cantonment board and the DHA would be urged to plant trees after the amendment to PEPA. She said that a society near the Allama Iqbal International Airport had not planted even a single tree. This society would also be asked to grow trees once the act was amended.

Punjab University College of Earth and Environmental Science Dr Professor Muhammad Nawaz said a large number of trees had been removed from the city to set up new housing societies. He said the authorities concerned should specify the number of tree that these societies should plant on their land.

Source: Daily Times

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