close
Wednesday April 24, 2024

Afghan transit trade, smuggling caused $4bn loss annually: Punjab CS

He said two cloud seeding (artificial rain) projects are under consideration to deal with smog in Punjab

By Asif Mahmood Butt
December 01, 2023
Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman speaks during a meeting in this still on November 30, 2023. — Facebook/Chief Secretary Punjab
Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman speaks during a meeting in this still on November 30, 2023. — Facebook/Chief Secretary Punjab

LAHORE: Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman said Thursday the Afghan transit trade and smuggling caused loss of four billion dollars annually.

Talking to The News, he said after an end to smuggling, the price of sugar has come down significantly and wheat is now in abundance. “Now we are in a position to export wheat,” he remarked.

The chief secretary said 900 illegal Afghan refugees have been arrested and deported from Punjab. The challenges are big but we will overcome these in the next four to five months, he hoped.

He said two cloud seeding (artificial rain) projects are under consideration to deal with smog in Punjab. “We are working together with the World Bank to control smog. But World Bank officials do not agree with us on the artificial rain projects,” the chief secretary said.

Zahid Akhtar said the government has no smog testing equipment, while there is a discrepancy in the data of different institutions on smog. “A study has been started with the World Bank on smog,” he said.

Talking about the climate change, he said it was the biggest issue and has now become the world agenda. The Department of Environment is taking measures on an emergency basis to eliminate environmental pollution, he said.

The chief secretary said there are many projects to generate electricity from waste in Punjab. The main issue is the tariff with Nepra for electricity generated from these projects, he added.

He said growing population will always be a challenge. “If Lahore Solid Waste Management Company has ten times more machinery than it has now, Lahore can be a clean city”, he observed.

The chief secretary said 0.25 million passengers have traveled on the Orange Line train and 0.2 million availed service of Metro Bus in Lahore in the last two days. He said if there were no Orange Line and Metro Bus services, vehicles and motorcycles would have taken their place, worsening the situation in Lahore.

He said 30 electric buses are being imported to eliminate smog. Lahore needs 1,400 buses for better travel facilities, he noted.

The chief secretary Punjab said motorcycle rickshaws came on the roads in 1998, but unfortunately the state did not do anything. “But now, a decision has been taken in principle to remove them from the roads. There are 900 illegal Chingchi rickshaws workshops. It has been decided not to allow manufacturing of Ching Chi rickshaws,” he said.