­MIRPUR (AJK)-The Azad Jammu Kashmir observed the World Environment Day by educating the public about the protection of the environment especially through mitigating the use of plastic bags.

As each year the World Environment Day is organised around a specific theme; the theme for 2018 was “Beat Plastic Pollution”.

The day was marked with series of major ceremonies hosted by Environmental Protection Agency of Azad Jammu Kashmir government including the inaugural session of the newly-formed Environmental Protection Council of AJK. The meeting was attended by senior officials of various government functionaries.

Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan emphasised the need of girding lions to successfully encounter the challenges of climate change. He also emphasised the need for lending all due resources to wipe out pollution from all the sectors of the society.

Haider underlined that the exercise of launching projects harmful to the climate including those leading to the diversion of natural routes of water have to be abandoned.

He strongly suggested that such project mostly the hydropower projects be constructed on the run-of-rivers without resorting to any sort of harm to the natural climate as detrimental to the environment, he said.

The prime minister said, “We shall have to focus on generating maximum of power through hydropower projects to overcome the energy crisis without harming the forests and natural water routes. He also called for remaining alert and vigilant besides performing due national responsibilities to overcome the water shortage - which the country is feared to face in the future.

Unveiling the salient features of the daylong hectic programmes, ACS (Dev) and Secretary Environmental Protection Agency AJK Dr Syed Asif Ali said, ‘’In fact it is the people’s day for pledging actions to take care of the earth.”

He said that since the World Environment Day is commemorated on June 5 every year, “Beat Plastic Pollution” is a call - this year - to action for all of us to come together to combat one of the great environmental challenges of our time. “The theme invites us all to consider how we can make changes in our everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution on our natural places, our wildlife - and our own health. While plastic has many valuable uses, we have become over-reliant on single-use or disposable plastic - with severe environmental consequences.”

In his detailed input through the multimedia, Director General Environmental Protection Agency of AJK Raja Muhammad Razaq said the day was first marked in 1974. It helped United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to raise awareness and generate political momentum around growing concerns such as the depletion of the ozone layer, toxic chemicals, desertification and global warming. The day has developed into a global platform for taking action on urgent environmental issues, he said.

Millions of people have taken part over the years, helping bring change in our consumption habits, as well as in national and international environmental policy, he said. “The observance of the activity worldwide encourages and raises awareness among the masses for their due individual and collective role for ensuring the totally pollution-free environment through their due actions,” he said.

He said that his organisation - the EPA AJK has devised a comprehensive plan ranging from general awareness to focusing on dimensions of Sustainable Development, Environmental Degradation and its safeguards with special emphasis on the above theme for World Environment Day this year.

It may be added that since the World Environment Day has a different global host country with a focus on the significance of the Day, the organisers had compiled a list of grant opportunities on Environment Conservation.

ACS (Dev)/Secretary EPC, on this occasion, presented an Overview of Environmental Legal & Institutional Frame work. Director General EPA Raja Razaq presented an overview of EPA. The meeting granted approval of Environmental Quality Standards (EQSs). The meeting also discussed the withdrawal of notification for declaration of ‘Kamsar’ as Environmentally Sensitive Location.

The meeting also issued necessary directives to various govt departments including Local Govt./MCs/TC, Health, Forests, Electricity, Public Health Engineering, Local government and Rural Development, EPA, district administrations and CEW, For efficient management of solid waste at district head quarters’ level and safe management of hospital waste.