LAHORE: With an aim to establish a consensus between the relevant public and private sector on the roles, responsibilities and actions that need to be taken to discourage crop residue burning and by extension smog, WWF-Pakistan organised a seminar on crop residue burning and the issue of smog at a hotel here Tuesday.
The seminar was attended by corporate partners, journalists, academia, industry practitioners and the farming community from across Pakistan.
Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General, WWF-Pakistan, welcoming the participants said, “Lahore is among the 10 most polluted cities in the world in terms of air quality, according to air quality monitor AirVisual. Air pollution caused by traffic, industries, crop burning and burning of solid waste is major contributor to smog. Urban air pollution in Pakistan is among the world’s most severe, significantly damaging human health, quality of life, and impacting the economy and environment.” Punjab Environment Protection Department Director General Tanvir Jabar said brick kilns, industries, agriculture and transportation sector, including the role of agriculture/crop residue burning create smog.
Rafay Alam, Pakistan’s leading environmental lawyer stated that it is the need of the hour to control crop burning. This can be achieved by introducing long-term and multi-sectoral solutions that must outlive the political cycle. He discussed the need of an air quality vision that unites policymakers. He stated “Punjab region in general is extremely prone to the hazards of smog. While the transportation and energy sector qualify as the leading contributors to smog, crop residue burning also contributes to this cause.” Dr Ehsan Ali, Director Punjab Bio Energy Institute, presented a feasibility analysis of the alternative use of crop residue, such as rice husk, in the production of energy. According to him, bio-energy is of utmost importance for the environment as it is a step towards materialising the intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) that Pakistan has submitted in accordance with the Paris agreement. Yasir Idrees, Operation Manager, Punjab Bio Energy Company, discussed the prospects of developing a sustainable supply chain of crop residue. Ali Raza, a food technologist, also spoke about the plausible value addition initiatives that can be taken for rice residue. Dr Masood Arshad, Director Water, Climate and Energy, WWF-Pakistan, concluded the event and thanked speakers and participants in developing concrete steps for future actions to control crop residue burning and smog.