RAWLAKOT/LONDON – Participants in a virtual roundtable here warned on Thursday that local communities could face dangerous situations and environmental risks if coordinated efforts are not made to protect local natural resources in Rawalakot, Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
Addressing the roundtable, social activists, intellectuals and other participants said ignoring emerging environmental issues in Azad Kashmir could create serious economic, social and environmental problems for local communities.
The Press for Peace Foundation, a UK-based organization, had organized the Twitter Space discussion on ‘Environmental issues in Rawalakot’ to raise awareness of environmental issues, sustainable development and green economy.
Mazhar Iqbal Mazhar (London) hosted the event and speakers included educational consultant Jamil Ahmed, author Javaid Khan, Rawalakot Press Club President Sardar Rashid Nazir, analyst Kashif Mir, Professor Zafar Iqbal (director of the Press for Peace Foundation), Abdul Wajid Khan (senior journalist), Shahid Awan (social activist) and Khurshid Abbasi.
Speakers urged the government to launch modern and environmentally friendly sewage systems in Rawalakot, Muzaffarabad and other major towns in the region.
They said governments and civil society should work together to address the growing environmental challenges of deforestation, pollution, soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions, flooding and crop decline, etc
Speakers said civil society and local communities must take ownership of efforts to protect natural resources and wildlife.
Speakers urged the government to ban the use of plastic bags and promote the use of recyclable and biodegradable bags.
The increasing use of baby diapers is a threat to the health of citizens and the beauty of local areas because disposable diapers never go away. Diapers contribute to health problems and environmental problems, they said.
Analyst Kashif Mir revealed that more than 25 billion rupees have been spent under the “Billion Tsunami Tree” program and the “Green Pakistan” program for forest conservation and wildlife protection in Azad Jammu -and-Kashmir. However, he said, the realities on the ground regarding the protection and conservation of forests do not match the government’s demands on environmental investments.
He lamented the incidents of wildfires in the forests and questioned the measures taken by the government to protect valuable natural resources, including agricultural lands and forests.
Professor Zafar Iqbal informed the participants that the Press for Peace Foundation would organize events, workshops, seminars and other similar activities in Muzaffarabad, Bagh and other cities.