Senate told about Rs365 billion environmental, natural resource damage
ISLAMABAD: The Senate was told Tuesday that annual cost of environmental and natural resource damage was about Rs365 billion or 6 per cent of GDP.
In a written answer to a question by Senator Samina Abid of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during the question hour, Minister for Climate Change Mushahid Ullah Khan said that the statistics was based on those parameters of which reasonable estimates were available.
He explained that the highest cost was from inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene (Rs112 billion) followed by agricultural soil degradation (Rs70 billion and indoor air pollution (Rs67 billion) while urban air pollution added another Rs65 billion.
The minister continued that the estimated cost of lead exposure was about Rs45 billion while rangeland degradation and deforestation cost were lowest at about Rs7 billion.
“Pakistan is also prone to adverse impacts of climate change. Since 2010, the economic losses due to recurrent floods is estimated at approximately $20 billion,” he noted.
Replying to a supplementary question, the minister said that he was writing a letter to the Organisation of Islamic Conference, Imam of Holy Kaba, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei, Jamia Al-Azhar, Saudi Arab, Indonesia and other countries and bodies to highlight the importance of climate change, related issues and evolve strategy thereon.
He also urged the religious scholars and prayer leaders to speak on how important were trees and vegetation for human beings with reference to the Islamic teachings. The minister pointed out that experts had come to the conclusion that environment-caused disasters would be deadlier in future than nuclear bombs.
The Senate, by majority, passed a bill to amend the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, envisaging special steps for speedy trial of certain offence, relating to terrorism, waging war or insurrection against Pakistan. The title of the Bill is: The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2015. It has already been passed by the National Assembly and concerned standing bodies.
On the bill, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the Bill seeking to amend the Pakistan Army Act to try terrorism accused in military courts was inconsistent with the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the 21st constitutional amendment and called for its wide circulation for eliciting public opinion — a suggestion that was turned down by the government through a voice vote.
Opposing the Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s motion to get the bill passed, Babar said that the apex court in its majority verdict of 13 to 4 had held that the Parliament could make constitutional amendments but such amendments were subject to judicial review.
“Out of these 13 judges a majority of eight judges held that military courts did not militate against the salient features of the Constitution in respect of independence of judiciary.
However, while giving this view these 8 judges also opined that trial by military courts were subject to certain safeguards. These safeguards included; one that a reference to military courts by the federal government was subject to judicial review, two, the military courts were bound to provide the accused with fair trail and reasonable procedural safeguards and three, the judgments of the military courts were subject to judicial review by the superior courts,” he noted.
On the admitted motion and report on 2nd biannual monitoring on the implementation of the National Finance Commission, the Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani ‘abruptly’ halted the discussion on finding out that only a deputy secretary from the Finance Division was present in the galleries. “They are not dummies.
The senators are talking sense on important constitutional matters. Who will respond? The prestige of the House has been violated by the secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination for not attending the related business. My ruling be deemed notice to them and they should be summoned by the House Privileges Committee on Thursday,” the visibly angry chairman said.
Senator Farhatullah Babar was speaking when the chair asked him to sit down and then wanted to know how many officials from the ministries concerned were sitting in the galleries.
Babar, Senator Usman Kakar of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and Sasi Palijo called for ensuring due share of the provinces under NFC and lamented they were being denied the same under one pretext or the other. Senator Babar charged the centre had been not fair in discharge of its fiscal responsibilities towards Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Contradictions and the alleged clumsy manner in which the federal government had prepared the report on NFC implementation were also highlighted by the senators.
Senator Sasi alleged that a financial one-unit continued to be imposed on Sindh, which was faced with load of population, terrorism and other issues but was not being given what was its share.