By: Imran Khushaal Raja 05-June-2015
The world is celebrating Global Environmental Day today on Friday, 5th June, 2015. The day is one of the initiatives of The United Nations Environment Program and calls itself “the biggest day for positive environmental action,” which might be needed now more than ever. UN believes that observing this day is the principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment.
Secretary-General of UN, Ban Ki-Moon, is of view that, although individual decisions may seem small but can make a tremendous difference, in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose. But in Azad Kashmir government is either unaware or lacking will, power or resources to make an effort to do anything to preserve the environment especially after the deadly earthquake of 2005. Facilitating plunder of natural resources and cutting of forests is all AJK Puppet Government is capable of, doing so is actually preparing the grounds for a second earthquake hit or maybe another kind of natural disaster. No actions yet have taken in this regard so far. Not even a study has been conducted on the damages of 2005 earthquake.
According to Ejaz Ur-Rehman who wrote a leaflet, titled “Environmental Issues and Need of Sustainable Development in the Earthquake Affected Areas, State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Pakistan”, in 2008, following are the key environmental issues which Azad Kashmir would be facing in future.
- Habitat loss and degradation.
- Biodiversity loss and migration of wildlife species.
- Flash floods and continued landslides/Soil erosion.
- Pressure on dwindling natural resources.
- Deforestation for fuel and construction/ Shelter purposes.
- Health hazard due to poor sanitation and inadequate waste/debris management practices.
- Increased transportation of construction material.
- Dumping of debris in dry watercourses and on river/streams sides.
- Contamination of water.
- The damages due to heavy silt deposits in the river feeding to the Mangla water reservoir.
- Psychosocial risk
The government claims that on local level civil society is organized and effective for the protection of forests with the help of Tahaffuz-e-Janglaat Committees comprising of forest department and local communities in each area. But figures indicate that 40 percent reduction occurred in forests after the partition of the subcontinent in this area. Other reports say that the area which was 50 percent covered with forests in 1947, has only remained 7 percent which is not only alarming but poses a serious question on the will and power of Azad Kashmir government to protect its forests.
The writer is pursuing his MPhil at Iqra University Islamabad, blogs at Kashmirica.org and works with Institute for Social and Economic Justice (ISEJ). He can be reached at
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