ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is making all-out efforts for the protection of Ozone Layer and has, so far, implemented 32 projects for phasing out Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). Iftikhar Ahmed, Technical Expert, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Ozone Cell, Ministry of Environment, said while talking to TheNation here on Thursday. He informed that Pakistan had agreed along with 191 other countries to phase out chemicals responsible for depleting Ozone layer by the year 2010 under an international treaty called Montreal Protocol, which Pakistan had ratified in 1992. Under the protocol, the expert maintained, a country programme for Pakistan was established in 1996, after which several projects for phasing out ODS had been carried out. He said the government was providing necessary technical and financial support to the industries using ODS from the international funding known as Multilateral Fund for the implementation of Montreal Protocol. Iftikhar said Pakistan did not produce ODS substances, however, imported a few chemicals like Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), Carbon Tetra Chloride (CTC), Halons and Methyl Bromide (MB) for use in the foam, refrigeration, metal and surgical industries, fire extinguishers and Quarantine & pre-shipment purposes. He said UNDP, UNIDO, UNEP and World Bank were implementing agencies for phasing out of the use of ODS from Pakistan through the Ozone Cell. He said Ozone Cell had, so far, implemented 32 projects in foam and refrigeration sectors for converting ODS-based technologies into Non-ODS technologies in collaborating with UNIDO. He said the Cell had trained 200 Custom officers for the purpose while over 750 technicians had been facilitated to build their capacity in retrofitting in CFCs-based refrigerators and air conditioners. Pakistan has introduced licensing system to regulate and monitor the import of CFCs, Halons, Methyl Chloroform and Methyl Bromide while import of Carbon Tetra Chloride was banned in May, 2007, some two and a half year ahead of the target fixed under the Montreal Protocol, the expert maintained. He also informed that the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) had awarded Pakistan a certificate of appreciation in recognition of its efforts made to protect the Ozone Layer. Ozone is a naturally occurring gas, which constitutes a protective layer above the earth surface from 15 to 55 kilometers in stratosphere. It absorbs certain wavelength of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation coming from the sun, which are very harmful to the life on earth. A number of synthetic chemicals containing Chlorine and Bromine damage this protective layer by producing large holes in it, which resultantly permits the hazardous UV radiation to reach the earth. According to NASA, the Ozone layer experienced the record high damage last year when its hole reached 11.5 million square miles. However, fortunately, a recent study by the same organisation reveals 16 per cent reduction in Ozone hole, shrinking back to the average level of the past 15 years. The expert, however, expressed dissatisfaction over the measure the world community had so far taken for the protection of Ozone layer. He said chemicals hazardous for the same remained in atmosphere for 40 to 100 years, while so far only 3.1 per cent decrease had been observed over world level in the same. The expert explained a number of scientific methods for restoration of the Ozone layer but said all the same were differed by scientist for one or the other reason. He said the best way for obtaining the said goal was reducing domestic and industrial use of the Ozone depleting substances to a sufficient level.