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THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENT POLICY 2005
A reproduction of the relevant section on the environment from Chapter 16 titled: "Environment and
Housing", page 205 to top of page 210 from the publication titled: "Pakistan Economic Survey, 2004-05"
published by the Government of Pakistan in June 2005.
The Lectures 15 and 16 identify the importance of placing all human activity and development within an
environmental framework and to view the utilization of natural resources on a balanced and sustainable basis.
The two handouts will provide students with the actual text of the two official documents that are most
relevant and contemporary to the subject.
At the same time, students are also advised to visit the websites of those organizations and institutions which
have a particular interest in issues related to Pakistan's environment.
These include, for example:
Pakistan National Committee of IUCN The World Conservation Union, website:
Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad, website: www.sdpi.org
Belour Advisory & Social Development Organisation (BASDO)
Baanhn Beli - A Friend Forever http://www.baanhnbeli.org/
H.E.J. Research Institute of Chemistry http://www.hej.edu.pk/
Pakistan Institute of Labour Education & Research (PILER) http://www.piler.sdnpk.org/
Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment http://www.shehri.org
Sungi Development Foundation http://www.sungi.sdnpk.org
World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan http://www.wwfpak.org/
Environment and Housing
Pakistan is conscious that pursuit of unbridled growth and development all over the world has laid a heavy
burden on sustainability for the present and foreseeable future on the planet Earth. Sustainable development
is, therefore, the cornerstone of all considerations by the government. Concern for environment its
protection, renewal and enrichment - has been reckoned as an obligation towards the betterment of all the
citizens at large. Presently, the environmental situation has arisen due to a number of factors including high
population growth rate, lack of public awareness and education, mismanagement of water and other natural
resources as well as unplanned urban and industrial expansion.
During the last decade, Pakistan has made diligent progress in the institutional strengthening and capacity
building of policy and planning institutions, environmental awareness, and the promulgation of
environmental legislation, National Environment Quality Standards (NEQS), and the establishment of
environmental tribunals. The energy sector introduced lead-free petrol and since July 2002, all refineries in
the country are supplying lead-free petrol and promoting clean fuels including CNG.
The National Environment Action Plan (NEAP) that was initiated in 2001 after the approval of the Pakistan
Environment Protection Council and the UNDP-funded, NEP Support (NEAP-SP) has overcome its
teething problems and the tangible results from these initiatives are visible. The major objectives of NEAP-
SP are to achieve a healthy environment and a sustainable livelihood by improving the quality of air, water
and land with civil society cooperation. In this regard, the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) and the
Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) have already been made mandatory for public sector development
projects. One of the major achievements of NEAP-SP during 2004-05 was the preparation of the draft
"National Environmental Policy 2005" which has been approved by the Prime Minister in principle and is
being circulated to larger stakeholders for comments. Once approved, it would be country's first every
"Environmental Policy". This Policy would complement the objectives of NEP-SP and will address the
sectoral issues like (a) Water management and conservation, (b) Energy efficiency and renewable, (c)
Agriculture and livestock, (d) Forestry and plantation, (e) Biodiversity and protected areas, (f) Climate change,
air quality and noise and (g) Pollution and waste management.
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(Note: Subsequent to the publication of the Pakistan Economic Survey 2004-2005, the National
Environmental Policy was formally approved by the Federal Cabinet. In addition, the (proposed) policy aims
to address other cross-sectoral issues such as (a) Population and environment, (b) Gender and environment,
(c) Health and environment, (d) Trade and environment, (e) Poverty and environment and (f) Environment
and local government.
In this globalize regime it is hard to avoid the issue of "genetically modified substances". This is proving to
be the bone of contention between the EU and the US as far as their international trade is concerned. So far
there were no rules and regulations to import, export, sell, purchase or trade living modified organisms,
substances, and products thereof for any purposes. Keeping in view its importance for public safety as well
as for international trade, the Ministry of Environment has framed and enacted "Pakistan Biosafety Rules
2005" under the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997. These rules would provide guidelines and
regulate trade in genetically modified substances.
The Government of Pakistan is also in the process of consultations/cost-benefit analysis, of accession to the
Kyoto Protocol with the major stakeholders from the public as well as the private sector, regarding their
preparedness for taking advantage of accession to the Protocol.
Impact of Pollution
The key factors contributing to air pollution in Pakistan are: a) rapidly growing energy demand; and b) a fast-
growing transport sector. In the cities, widespread use of low-quality fuel, combined with a dramatic
expansion in the number of vehicles on roads, has led to significant air pollution problems. Air pollution
levels in Pakistan's most populated cities are among the highest in the world and climbing, causing serious
health issues. The levels of ambient particulates smoke particles and dust, which cause respiratory disease
are generally twice the world average and more than five times as high as in industrial countries and Latin
America (Energy Information Administration, 2004), Although Pakistan's energy consumption is still low by
world standards, lead and carbon emissions are major air pollutants in urban centres such as Karachi, Lahore,
Rawalpindi and Peshawar.
It may be mentioned here that the two-wheeler industry is performing very well in Pakistan. In the year
2003-04, the motorcycle industry showed a visible sign of growth when the total market size achieved a figure
of around 327446 while during 2004-05 (July-March), it was 342678 units. Rickshaws have grown (increased
in number) by more than 59%, while motorcycles and scooters have almost doubled over the past ten years
(This data does not include locally assembled diesel engine turned (driven) "auto carts" used in rural areas).
Motorcycles and rickshaws, due to their two-stroke engines, are the most inefficient in burning fuel and
contribute most to emissions.
Pakistan is the largest user of CNG in Asia and has become the third-leading country in the world to use
CNG to fuel vehicles. Presently, some 700 CNG stations are operating in the country while 200 are under
construction. By March 2005, about 700,000 vehicles were converted to CNG as compared to 450,000
vehicles during the same period last year, showing an increase of 56%. Use of CNG as fuel in the transport
sector has observed a quantum leap, replacing traditional fuels and has helped a lot in lowering the pollution
load in many urban centres. After the successful CNG programme for petrol replacement, the government is
now embarking upon a programme to replace the more polluting diesel fuel in the road transport sector. The
government has planned to offer incentives to investors to introduce CNG buses in the major cities of the
During July-March 2004-05, 3681 million cubic feet of natural gas was supplied per day as against 3210
million cubic feet per day during the same period last year, showing an increase of almost 14.7 percent. For
the last five years, the use of coal in the power sector has been decreasing. It may be due to the fact that a
number of plants have now been converted to natural gas. Likewise, there has been a considerable reduction
in coal usage for domestic purposes.
Per capita water availability in Pakistan has been decreasing at an alarming rate. In 1951, per capita availability
was 5300 cubic meters, which has now decreased to 1105 cubic meters just touching water scarcity level of
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1000 cubic meters. The productivity of fresh water is also decreasing due to losses in the movement of the
water from the canal heads to the croplands. The existing water resources are under threat due to rapid
degradation, soil erosion, deforestation and untreated discharge of municipal and industrial wastes to rivers
and other water bodies. Municipal water is treated only in two cities viz. Karachi and Islamabad though the
capacity of these treatment plants is much less than the actual quantum of wastewater. Over fishing and
polluted water are reducing the productivity of the marine and inshore fisheries. This situation is precarious,
in particular, for mangroves in the coastal zone and certain aquatic wildlife, such as the Indus freshwater
dolphin. All of these activities are contributing to the destruction of habitats and, more generally, to a loss of
The investigational study conducted by Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources indicates that water
in many cities of Pakistan is unsafe for human consumption due to both bacterial and chemical
contamination. The overall deteriorating quality of water can be attributed to a continuous drop in the water
table due to high industrial and agricultural demands. It has been observed that the water table has been
decreasing at a rate of 10 feet every year.
The Government of Pakistan is committed to supply safe drinking water to its people and many emptive as
well as pre-emptive measures have been proposed in the National Environmental Policy to ensure supply of
safe drinking water. Various bilateral and multilateral donors/aid/lending agencies have shown their
willingness to support government's endeavour in this regard. Plans are underway to extend the coverage of
clean drinking water from 63 percent in 2001-02 to 70% percent in 2005-06 and sanitation from 40 percent to
55 percent in the same period. It is targeted to provide 93 percent of population with access to clean drinking
water by 2005 and 90% of the population with access to sanitation.
The productivity of soil is being lost due to water-logging, salinisation and sodicity. It is estimated that about
38 percent of Pakistan's irrigated land is water logged, 14 percent is saline and the application of agricultural
chemicals has increased by a factor of almost 10 since 1980. Forest cover is being lost every year, and
Balochistan's Juniper forests, unique in the world, continue to be cut beyond their capacity to regenerate.
In the urban areas, less than 60 percent of solid waste is collected. No city in Pakistan has proper waste
collection and disposal system for municipal or hazardous wastes. Our Industries use about 525 types of
chemicals and dyes/colour in different processing industries. Their processing generates wastes causing
contamination of soil and poses potential risk to public health and damage to the fertility of cropland.
Policies and Programmes
The National Conservation Strategy (NCS) represents the broad National Environment Policy of Pakistan,
within which a National Environment Action Plan (NEAP) has also been approved. The main objectives of
NEAP are to safeguard public health, promote sustainable livelihood and enhance quality of life for the
people of Pakistan. It focuses on clean air, clean water, solid waste management and eco-systems
management. The government has also formulated a comprehensive strategy to develop provincial capacity
for implementing environmental protection laws and monitoring their effectiveness. The following strategies
and plans are envisaged:
National Resettlement Safeguard Policy (NRSP):
The NRSP will be promulgated to minimize negative environmental and social impacts of land acquisition
and rehabilitation for national projects, and displacement of native people.
National Response Strategy on Climate Change:
This policy-guiding document is also nearing completion, which envisages policies and action plans to combat
adverse impacts of climate change on different sectors of the economy, with existing sources of technical and
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National Land Use Programme: Other Plans:
These include Forest Sector Master Plan, National Forest Policy, Biodiversity Action Plan and Desertification
Combat Action Plan, Maritime Policy is currently under preparation, which will be finalized and
implemented. Integrated Coastal Zone management Plan will be formulated.
Conservation will focus on the following areas:
Energy efficiency and renewable energy:
Energy efficiency will be significantly improved by implementing an efficiency plan. Conventional sources of
energy will be conserved. The proportion of renewable sources will be increased incrementally in the coming
decades. Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technology (PCRET) would undertake a comprehensive
implemental action plan for development of non-conventional technology.
Land and Water:
Irrigation and water management systems need both short-term and long-term rectification to minimize water
distribution losses. The overriding principle of the ongoing National Drainage Programme (NDP) is not to
pollute the Indus Basin System and fresh water reservoirs by discharging saline effluents. The on-farm water
management (OFWM) programme will line and renovate existing 90,000 watercourses to enhance irrigation
efficiency up to 70%. Efficient irrigation methods along with lining of existing canal networks will be
adopted to economize water use and to control water logging and salinity.
State-owned forests will be regenerated and protected with intimate involvement of local communities in
forests management. Local governments and union councils would bring in more private marginal lands
under forests cover within a defined legal framework to avoid alienation of land use. State-owned wastelands
may be leased out to tenants for expansion of forest cover.
Production systems and consumption patterns will be rationalized through the following measures:
Regional pricing system:
The input and output prices will be rationalized to achieve minimal unit cost of production ensuring
sustainability of the agriculture sector. Agricultural and industrial pricing systems will be reformed to
consider the costs of natural resources (land, water and air), for estimating the real cost of production per
Environmental accounting and auditing:
In industrial sector, environmental economics, accounting and auditing would be introduced, which on the
one hand would ensure cleaner production and standards certification e.g. ISO 14000 series, and on the
other, determine the actual cost of production including hidden environmental costs.
The under-preparation Land Use Plan will facilitate agro-eco-zoning of Pakistan in relation to comparative
advantages of crops. Production of high water-demanding and susceptible crops will be discouraged;
environmentally valued crops will be promoted.
Air and water pollution will be managed in the following ways:
Fuel switching and clean fuels:
Emissions of air pollutants will be gradually brought within the safe limits, through promoting unleaded
gasoline, low sulphur fuel oil/diesel, and gradual switching to natural gas/CNG. Consequently, health
hazards and cost of air pollution will be gradually reduced. Promoting energy-efficient and clean technologies
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will bring emission levels well within the admissible limit of 114,000 Gigagrams (Base Year 1994 level for
developing countries), and greenhouse gases (GHGs).
Water quality monitoring:
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) with the collaboration of district and local governments will
effectively monitor urban wastewater and industrial effluent discharges into rivers/water bodies to check
Governance will be improved and institutions strengthened through the following set of actions:
Strengthening of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PEPA) and provincial Environment
Protection Departments in order to enable them to perform the mandated functions. Local governments
under the new set-ups will be strengthened and administratively empowered to enforce legislation and
monitor natural resources. Enabling institutional and legal frameworks for National Environment Quality
Standards (NEQS) enforcement, implementing Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic
Environment Assessment (SEA) will be established.
Currently, two tribunals are functioning in Lahore and Karachi. During the coming three years full financial
and manpower support will be extended to make them fully functional to prosecute environmental violations.
Strengthening of institutions in public, private and NGO sectors, concerned with planning, project
formulation and implementation of projects through training and capacity building programmes. The district
and local governments under the new set-up will be specifically focused for capacity building programmes on
Awareness and education:
Electronic and print media will be used for enhancing environmental awareness, dissemination of
government policies, plans and programmes for invoking participation of district and local institutions in
implementing them. Formal environmental education will also be promoted though building human
resources capacities, and technological support of national academia.
Participation of NGOs and communities:
Programmes for community mobilization for sustainable management of natural resources, through active
involvement of custodian communities in planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation
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