Environment bill passed despite impassioned pleas by MPAs
LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed eight bills, including the Punjab Environment Protection (Amendment) Bill of 2017.
The house, chaired by Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani, passed the Dera Ghazi Khan Development Authority (Repeal) Bill of 2017, the Punjab Environment Protection (Amendment) Bill of 2017, the Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service (Constitution functions and powers – amendment) Bill of 2017, the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order (Amendment) Bill of 2017, the Punjab Ehtram-i-Ramazan (Amendment) Bill of 2017, the Parks and Horticulture Authority (Amendment) Bill of 2017, the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) Bill of 2017 and the Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (Amendment) Bill of 2017.
Eight amendments put forward by the opposition members were opposed by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and subsequently were rejected by the house.
The female members of the opposition raised serious concern over the passage of the Environment Protection (Amendment) Bill of 2017.
PML-Q MPA Khadeeja Umar, on a point of order, after the presentation of the Environment Protection (amendment) Bill of 2017 lamented the government for not taking up the environment issue properly.
She said the international environment monitoring bodies had declared Lahore the fifth most polluted city of the world but the government had not addressed the issue in the bill.
In her fiery speech on the environment challenges faced by the city, she attracted huge applause from the opposition as well as treasury benches.
She said that the Environment Protection (Amendment) Bill was tabled not to address the environmental challenges but for clerical changes regarding powers of the director general.
She said that the government had not checked the establishment of new factories in and around Lahore and in Kasur district.
She said that out of more than 300 factories, only three to five, were granted no-objection certificates while others were allowed to work without such certificates.
She said the government was playing with the lives of the people by not adopting precautionary measures to protect the environment and it was only busy felling the trees and building metro buses and train projects.
She said the government had not even tried to equip the department with gadgets to gauge the level of pollution in the country. She said that the government had not provided any fund for the Environment Protection Department from last eight to ten years.
She demanded that the government introduce a comprehensive bill on improving environment so that future generation could breathe in healthy air.
She was supported by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MPA Sadia Sohail Rana, who, on a point of order, also criticised the government for not taking measures to improve the environment.
She said that they should take care of the environment irrespective of their political affiliations because a large number of people were becoming lungs and cancer patients due to air pollution.
She said the underground water of Lahore was also contaminated with arsenic.
However, Law Minister Rana Sanaullah called the new bill compressive, saying it would address challenges to the environment. The house passed the bill.
Earlier, the session started after one and a half hour of the schedule with the Question Hour. Most of the questions could not be taken up because the movers were not present in the assembly.
The Punjab Medical Supplies Authority Bill of 2017 was referred to standing committee. The House will meet on Thursday at 10am.