ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet on Thursday approved the Hajj Policy 2023 and the National Clean Air Policy. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, chairing the cabinet meeting, said the authorities should prepare a comprehensive and effective strategy as soon as possible in cooperation with the officials of Saudi Arabia to provide the best possible travel and lodging facilities to pilgrims during the Hajj.
He appreciated the Ministry of Climate Change for formulating the Clean Air Policy, and directed that necessary steps should be taken for its effective implementation. The Ministry of Climate Change presented the new policy before the cabinet for approval.
The cabinet was told that in the previous years air pollution had risen to dangerous levels in many big cities. According to the Air Quality Index Report 2022-23, Karachi and Lahore were the cities most affected by air pollution. It mentioned that due to air pollution the average life of people was reduced by 2.7 years. As per the 2016 report of the World Bank, Pakistan’s economy was suffering huge losses because of the air pollution problem.
In recent years, the number of accidents caused by smog in cities and different diseases spiraled. The Ministry of Climate Change prepared an extensive policy covering a number of subjects, including protection of health of citizens, steps to reduce per year deaths, promotion of agriculture, reduction in air pollution and for improvement in quality of air in urban and rural areas.
The policy recommended to encourage and promote upgradation of fuel from Euro 5 standard to Euro 6, introduce strict laws to control industrial emissions, modernize agriculture, effectively stop burning of crop waste, adopt international standards for waste management and use low emission gases in cooking. The adoption of policy would decrease emission of poisonous gases by 40 percent in the next 10 years.
The effective enactment of policy would be ensured by a National Action Committee, which would provide long term guidance for its implementation and also bring changes in it after every five years keeping in view the ground realities. A technical committee would also be constituted to come up with a strategy to ensure execution of the policy and send periodical reports to the National Action Committee.
The committee would also present recommendations to remove obstacles in the way of implementation of the policy. Execution of the clean air policy could lead to increase in the average human life in Pakistan by two years. The cabinet was also briefed on a strategy for fuel conservation. It was told that the ministries of Power, Petroleum, Industry and Commerce and Information were ensuring on priority basis implementation of the targets set by the cabinet. On the recommendation of the Ministry of Law and Justice, the National Accountability Amendment Ordinance 2023 was approved.
The recent amendments in the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 had created legal complications because of which it became difficult to transfer a lot of cases which did not come in the ambit of NAB ordinance, to other courts, tribunals and forums. After consultation with all stakeholders, the NAB Ordinance XVIII was amended after which the accountability courts would get a legal cover to transfer cases to other courts and forums. The amendments would also end the perception that those cases which did not come in the purview of NAB Ordinance, were decriminalized. The cabinet also ratified the decisions made by the Economic Coordination Committee during its meetings held on March 1 and March 6. It also ratified the decisions taken by the Cabinet Committee for Legislative Cases in its meeting held on March 6.