KARACHI - Environmental pollution has reached an alarming level in major cities of the countries due to the rising number of vehicles on the roads, however, the inability of concerned authorities to check rising level of carbon emission is also responsible for rampant the pollution, said National Forum on Environment and Health (NFEH) in its report on Thursday. NFEH has issued a "fact sheet on environment protection", on the eve of 'World Environment Day' in which NFEH said that lack of political will and pressures from the influential were the major reasons behind slow progress in the implementation of environmental standards. According to the experts, the level of carbon in the air in big cities is very high. In Karachi this is higher, up to 13 percent, than the normal level of 0.79 per cent out of 100 milligrams. This included the presence of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other particles. Major contributors are thick smoke emitting public transport vehicles and emission from industries. Environmental protection has ever been remained the lowest priority of every government in Pakistan since this issue gained publicity worldwide after the Earth Summit of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Though Pakistan has introduced National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) in 1997 for enforcement in next ten years, the progress is still very slow and implementation has been less than 10 percent in industrial units. The reasons are the lack of political will, pressure from influential and corruption. Environmental Tribunals, which were set up in the same year under Environment Act, have been inactive for one year due to judiciary crisis. Sindh government and then City government had twice launched campaign to impose ban on polythene bags, but failed to achieve desired results for various reasons. According to reports, about 364 metric tons of the total solid waste generated in the city every month is consisted of polythene bags. Vehicular traffic alone contributes 70 percent of total environment pollution in major cities. About 35 percent of the vehicles are not fit for running on the roads as they discharge thick smoke with half-burnt fuel. It is surprising that despite the orders of Sindh High Court against thick smoke emitting buses, no action has been taken yet. More than 1.7 million vehicles are running on the roads in Karachi which is more than half of country's total vehicular population of 3.5 million. In addition, about 300 to 400 new vehicles are added every day in Karachi. Among them, obsolete models of buses, taxis and rickshaw of 50s and 60s are the major contributors to the rising level of pollution in big cities. According to the report, the roads in Karachi have the capacity of only 700 vehicles per hour, but 11,000 vehicles are running on the roads. Every car in Pakistan, irrespective of new and old, generates 25 percent carbon which is comparatively higher than USA. City District Government Karachi was interested in introducing CNG buses in Karachi. But this project has not progressed beyond talks despite the fact that previous government had approved fund in its last days as a payment of customs duty on the import of CNG busses by the private sector.   The seriousness of the previous governments regarding the environmental factor could easily be judged from the fact that not a single meeting of Environment Protection Council had been held since last 12 years. Prime Minister of Pakistan, by virtue of his office, is the chairman of this council. The Environment Policy was approved by the federal cabinet in July 2005 with the aim to reduce environment pollution by creating awareness among masses. According to the report of World Health Organization (WHO), more than 30,000 people die every year from pollution-related diseases like asthma, lung cancer and bronchitis, ENT and mental disorders. President NFEH M. Naeem Qureshi has appealed the government to implement Environment Policy in letter and spirit in consultation with all stakeholders including representative bodies. The organization urged the government to man EPAs with technical persons and they should have latest laboratories and analytical equipment and apparatus to check pollution levels. They should work in consultation with all stakeholders including industries, representative trade and industry bodies. At the same time NEQS should be implemented to reduce the level of pollution. Environmental Tribunals should be reactivated at once. Performance of EPAs must be monitored and their heads should be replaced with technical and professional persons. The forum also appeal the authorities implement the long pending "mass transit system" in all major cities. In addition, all public transport buses, taxis, rickshaws and heavy duty trucks should be converted to CNG or LPG. He said that the budget on environment has recorded an increase of 700 percent, rising from Rs 300 million to Rs 3 billion in last four years, no progress on environmental front has been witnessed. Previous government had introduced a clean drinking water program at cost of Rs 3 billion to install water purification plants in every locality. Most of them are non-functional.