Clean and Green Pakistan

PRIME Minister Imran Khan on Monday launched an ambitious five-year ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ campaign aimed at beautifying the country and preserving a better environment for coming generations. Addressing the launch of the campaign in Islamabad, he explained contours of the campaign, based on the Holy Prophet (PBUH) saying ‘Cleanliness is half of faith’.
There can be no two opinions that this one initiative, if pursued in letter and in spirit, has the potential to change entire landscape of the country, improve its environment significantly, ultimately resulting in huge monetary savings, which Federal and Provincial Governments are currently spending on treatment of water-borne and pollution-related diseases. The Prime Minister’s selection of Malik Ameen Aslam as Advisor on Climate Change itself is reflection of his resolve to address environment-related issues effectively as Mr Ameen has vast and rich experience in the field of climate change and has advised (through the UN) a number of countries, including Turkey, East Timor, Uzbekistan Malawi and Pakistan on development of climate change policy. With a personality like him heading Clean and Green Pakistan Programme, one can surely expect that a change would be visible provided necessary resources are made available and all government institutions, provincial authorities and civil society extend a helping hand in making the drive a success.
The Prime Minister has a point when he underscored the need for launching an aggressive awareness campaign and making environment issues part of the syllabus from class one to five. This is because no government measure can succeed without realisation of the importance of cleanliness on the part of citizens. We have seen in cities of Punjab (including Rawalpindi) where waste management is being carried out with the cooperation of a Turkish firm, which has been trying to change the look and environment of our cities but its efforts are not bearing fruit only because of lack of cooperation and responsibility by the residents of these cities. A change can be visible just within a day if parents sensitise their children and teachers their students to inculcate the habit of environment friendly disposal of waste and cooperate with civic agencies in keeping their areas and surroundings neat and clean.
The plan announced by the Prime Minister is realistic as it not only focuses on waste disposal but also envisages a network of monitors and volunteers to ensure that the campaign is sustained and produces desired results. The idea to hold bi-monthly cleanliness and sanitation competition among tehsils and reward or penalise them on the basis of these contests would surely help create necessary sense of responsibility among authorities of civic agencies that presently do not take cleanliness seriously. We would recommend that Union Council Chairmen should be held accountable in this regard as the campaign cannot yield intended results until and unless there is action at gross-roots. The most important component of the Prime Minister’s plan is the idea of identifying dumping sites down from village to tehsil level and establishment of waste-to-energy plants around these sites to produce electricity. This would serve as an incentive for people and small contractors to collect garbage from every nook and corner of their areas and sell it to the energy plant. Faithful implementation of this idea would also help resolve the perennial problem of electricity shortage, as small power plants would take care of local energy needs.
The Federal Government should take a lead in setting up such plants in Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other major cities, which should serve as model for provincial and local governments to emulate. Another component of the clean and green Pakistan programme – recycling of municipal water – would also go a long way in overcoming water scarcity in urban areas. Again, construction of toilets across the country would also prove to be an important contributor towards clean environment and as the Prime Minister pointed out help attract tourists to different areas and regions. IK deserves credit for minutely addressing the issue as instructions have been issued to all petrol pumps and CNG stations to keep their toilets clean and people asked to send their pictures through WhatsApp to relevant authorities if they are not properly maintained. We would also propose that a similar monitoring and vigilance campaign should be ensured for cleanliness of toilets in government and private sector offices that are presently in a very bad shape despite availability of manpower and resources for the purpose. We are confident that each and every citizen would extend fullest cooperation when the countrywide campaign starts from October 13, as everyone has to gain from its success.

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