The Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change on Thursday was informed by the Pakistan Metrological Department that the country as a whole is going to receive, above normal monsoon rainfall during forecast season. It was informed that overall a tendency for above normal precipitation is predicted over most parts of the country in August. The Senate Climate Change Committee which met under the chairpersonship of Senator Seemee Ezdi here at the Parliament Lodges on Thursday was briefed by the Chairman NDMA on the monsoon season and threat of flash floods and urban flooding. The Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman who was also in attendance said that these events will remain a regular feature and the country’s overall infrastructure is not ready for such disasters which will lead to severe humanitarian crisis. Senator Farooq H. Naek raised question whether the Climate Change Ministry or the MET office is responsible for pre-warning of the climate conditions. The Minister for climate changed briefed that the MET office which comes under the ministry of Aviation is responsible for weather warnings. She said that it is the role of the provincial government for preventive measures and rescue and relief operations. The Minister for Climate change said that despite the MET office warnings which are loud and clear, are of no use since the Provincial Government do not have the capacity to rescue a disaster because of its infrastructure, road construction and poor rain water drainage system. She said that as long as the nullahs will not be cleared and the country will not equip it with enough resources there will be no way forward. She said that all the stake holders should sit together and work on plan each contributing to redress this problem which will now seem to occur regularly as the climate change occurs globally. Senator Taj Haider while discussing possible solutions to address such calamities said that the country is also lacking water reservoirs, through which adversity could be changed into opportunity and accumulate water, addressing the issue of water scarcity. The Secretary Ministry for Climate Change also argued that early warning are area specific as certain areas cannot forecast due to lack of modern equipment. He said that 10 lac people are residing at the bed of the River Indus when the flood occurs these residents disseminate in the local area which continues to disrupt the rescue and relief operation. The committee unanimously believed that a National Action Plan and its implementation is the need of the day. Senator Farooq Hamid Naek also pointed out that concurrent list was missing which has also led to climate disaster in the country. The committee stressed that it’s time legislation should be formulated to prepare the country for natural disasters due to rapid climate change globally. It was also decided to work on National Simulation exercise to validate and enhance preparedness and response plans, procedures and systems for all hazards and capabilities. Senator Faisal Javed also proposed the committee to take brief by the Ministry of Climate Change on the National Adaptation Policies for Climate Change on priority basis in the next meeting.
The chairman NDMA briefed the committee that the National Emergency operation center ( NEOC) is operational 24/7 which is continuously monitoring daily occurrences and is in coordination with all Disaster management stake holders including UN agencies, Donors NGO’s and media. The NDMA informed that Pakistan is amongst the top ten vunerable countries in global climate risk index.
The committee was briefed that the NDMA exercised multiple scenarios on 28th and 29th June for better assimilation of disasters. The committee was also briefed by the NDMA on mass awareness programs and rescue activities. The NDMA said that total 11639 rescue activities have taken place across the country, 78 relief camps which accommodated 23061 affectees. The committee was also apprised that from 13th June till date 575 ( with a maximum of 176 in Balochistan and 127 and 119 in Sindh and Punjab respectively) deaths have occurred due to monsoons rains and 939 injuries took place across the country.
The committee showed serious concern on the recent incident of forest Fire In KPK which was raised by Senators Mushtaq Ahmed Khan and Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah in the senate sitting. The Forestry, Environment and wild life department presented that the PMU 10-BTTP has recently completed the monitoring of Fire damaged areas of both BTAP and 10 BTTP sites throughout the province as per report received from each forest region. 97 intervention sites were reported measuring burnt area of 2058 Ha. The monitoring teams of 10-BTTP physically monitored each site during July, 2022 throughout the province, and a detail Fire report was generated. The Total burnt area of both BTAP and 10 BTTP was measured as 2144 Ha. Out of 97 sites, 24 were of BTAP and 73 were of BTTP measuring 561 Ha. & 1584 Ha. area respectively. It was briefed that the major cause of eruption of fire in BTAP 7 10-BTTP intervention sites was determined as the fire spread from the surrounding private areas where the fire was set to burn the agriculture field wastes and rangelands for getting tender grasses for their livestock. Other major cause was the tourist irresponsible attitude coupled with the unprecedented dry and warm climate in the province form March -June. The committee was also apprised a way forward for preparation for dealing with more and more fire including an updated KP’s action Plan 2017 and multi-sectoral action. The committee was briefed that the best tested option for forest fire extinguishing has been observed as “fixed wing aircraft” as in case of sheraniChigoza Forest fire during May 2022. Therefore it has been proposed that an air craft (crop duster size) be procured for the fire-extinguish purposes. Other preparations include command and control mechanism for clear coordination and hierarchy and requirement of fire posts drone surveillance technology. It was also suggested that the KP Department and wildlife department need to frame a joint action plan with private and communal owners’ before the onset of next fire season. It was proposed that a control burning will be carried out in Dec and Jan in Chir forest areas. It was recommended that from now onwards the plantation and other such activities like sowing or assisted natural Regeneration will be planned for only designated forest to avoid any further clash with locals on converting their grazing lands into forest.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan lamented that there is a whole mafia behind forest firing and it needs a more robust plan to save not only the natural resources of the country but also the effects of climate change leading to natural calamities.
The meeting was attended by Senator Faisal Javed, Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Keshoo Bai, Taj Haider, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Abida Muhammad Azeem , Farooq Hamid Naek and Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan. Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman, Chairman NDMA Lt Gen Akhtar Nawaz along with senior officials of the attached departments were also in attendance.