ISLAMABAD:The approval by the federal Cabinet of Tuesday’s first ever National Hazardous Waste Management Policy was a sign that both the Centre (and the provinces) will work together to develop a National Action Plan. This plan would allow implementation of the policy in just three months so that the country is not a dump for hazardous disposals.
Sherry Reman, Minister for Climate Change stated that the cabinet approved the strengthening of classification, transparency, and NAP implementation frames, as well as a more stringent governance infrastructure to regulate hazardous materials at international borders.
This was due to the fact that Pakistan produces about 30 million tonnes annually of waste and imports 80,000 tonnes of bundled waste from other countries each year. These wastes pollute groundwater and cause health and environmental problems.
After the cabinet meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Shehbaz Shareef, the climate change ministry stated that Pakistan should not be used for hazardous waste disposal.
Marriyum aurangzeb, Minister of Information and Broadcasting and G-B Qamar Zaman Kaira Adviser for PM For Kashmir, were part of key decisions taken in the cabinet meeting. These included approvals of the visa regime for Afghanistan, a housing scheme in Kashmir, and an increase in Hajj Quota.
Waste Management Policy
The approval of the policy by the climate change minister was hailed as a landmark. It would ensure that the country’s environment, health, and safety is protected.
Sherry also stated that Pakistan’s mismanagement and misuse of hazardous materials is a problem. She said that Pakistan is importing all types bundled wastes from other parts of the globe, with an average annual weight of 80,000.
Minister Fears that our 30,000,000 tonnes of hazardous waste per annum will pollute our groundwater and surface water supplies if we don’t manage waste storage and recycling properly. This could also lead a dangerous level of land pollution.
She stated that most landfills were full and could no longer be used for dumping any more.
Minister noted that the government had created a long-overdue plan and said that “The country had to be serious about managing its waste, separating it as well tracking it” instead of the inconsistent, unregulated treatment it has received over the years. “
“The environmental and human health have been significantly affected by the treatment, collection and disposal of waste materials. “
Senator stated, “The policy encourages a whole-cycle approach to managing hazardous materials from their generation to disposal in a manner that is not harmful to our environment.”
She said that Pakistan’s move to an industrial-driven economy would increase hazardous waste dumped and poor management.
Minister stated that such wastes can cause severe damage if improperly stored, transported, treated, disposed of, and transport. Minister also said that groundwater and soil contamination is the most common problem in the world due to poor or illegal waste management.
Sherry while talking about electronic waste (ewaste)- it refers to products at the end their useful lives. They may contain hazardous substances, which could be released immediately or generated during disposal.
She claimed that illegally import the waste poses a serious threat to local communities. Low birth weight and birth defects are possible.
She added that e-waste could cause respiratory problems and skin irritations. She claimed that there are many illegal dumping sites in Pakistan, all located near residential areas.
Minister spoke out to support a united front that saw federal and provincial governments work together for the protection and well-being of people and the environment. He stated that consultations with G-B, AJK, the provinces and other agencies had been completed and that a specialized directorate for hazardous waste management would be established within the ministry in order to implement this policy.
She emphasized the importance of complying with the Minamata Stockholm, Rotterdam, and Stockholm conventions. The country will have hazardous waste problems that are too hard to manage without a proper channel, awareness, or policy.
Premier expressed appreciation for the minister’s efforts in protecting the environment, and stated that he would soon convene a special meeting on environmental protection where all provinces would be invited.
Cabinet approves Afghanistan visa regime
Following a meeting of both the Foreign Office and Board of Investment (BOI), the apex committee of NADRA and Board of Investment (BOI), the federal cabinet reviewed and approved Afghanistan’s visa regime.
According to the information minister, visa applications from Afghanistan will be processed by consulates and embassies in Pakistan on the basis of passport and current nationality.
The Information minister said that the federal cabinet has added sub-categories to the work visa categories to increase trade with Afghanistan.
Marriyum stated that multiple entry visas will be issued for multiple entries within 48 hours. Marriyum said the interior ministry could extend the validity of the visa to one year.
The cabinet exempted drivers, transporters, and helpers from applying for a BOI letter or SECP registration. NADRA was notified to ensure that any changes made online are done immediately.
A cabinet committee was established by the premier to oversee the business facilitation process. This committee was created to ensure Afghan patients could get visas to Afghanistan to visit for medical reasons.
Housing scheme for Kashmiri refugees
G-B Qamar Zaman Kaira (Adviser to PM on Kashmir) stated that the cabinet approved Rs3.1 billion to finance the first phase of 1,314 homes for Kashmiri refugee families. These people had fled fighting more than three decades back and moved to Pakistan to seek refuge from Indian Illegally Obtained Jammu & Kashmir.
Kaira said that the housing program was being set up for 8,000 Kashmiri families, and that the AJK government must provide the land.
On the recommendation of Ministry of Religious Affairs, the cabinet approved the Hajj Policy Amendment 2022. This is due to issues that have arisen during the operation of the pilgrimage.
These amendments along with the direction from the Peshawar High Court made 188 cases from private sector and the additional 2000 pilgrims from Saudi Arabia part the government Hajj Scheme.
The divisions and ministries that would ensure the recruitment for the provincial contingent is based upon merit were approved by the cabinet. A briefing was given to the cabinet about the vacant federal services positions regarding Balochistan.
Within two weeks, an NOC would be issued by the Establishment Division for Balochistan quota recruiting. All vacant positions will also be advertised.
Attack of polio team condemned
The attack on the polio squad at district Tank was condemned. Two police officers and and one worker in policing were killed.
According the information minister, the PM directed that the interior minister submit a written report to the cabinet at their next meeting.
Author: Engr. Husnain Sultan
Passionate to spread awareness regarding current and future environmental crisis.An international consultant, advisor and trainer with expertise in waste management, biomass energy, waste-to-energy, environment protection and resource conservation.