ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday emphasized on reforestation in Pakistan to save future of the coming generations lamenting how various major cities including Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi used to be “clean” but were now suffering from pollution.

“We have destroyed our forests, and our next generation will have to pay the price for it,” Imran Khan said while speaking at Clean-Green Index Encouragement awards distribution ceremony here. The Prime Minister recalled out that people used to drink Peshawar’s water as if it was mineral water.

Commenting on the Karachi situation, he said that trash and garbage could be found scattered on streets of the port city while sewerage is being disposed of in the sea, causing hurdles for fishermen.

Khan also highlighted that Lahore has lost 70 percent of its greenery resulting in increase in pollution in Punjab’s capital.

“In October, November, and December, the pollution levels increase to such an extent that they cause harm to people’s health in Lahore,” he said.

Imran Khan emphasised the need of plantation drive and asked people to join hands to save the future of the country.

“We have destroyed our forests, and our next generation will have to pay the price for it,” he said. He said he had launched on November 15 last year the Clean Green Pakistan Index to start a healthy cleanliness competition among 19 cities across the country.

The major focus of the initiative is to inculcate a spirit of competition on cleanliness initiatives in the cities and facilitate the behavioral change, building positive attitudes, institutional strengthening for better water, sanitation and hygiene services and facilities.

The Prime Minister said the government has set an ambitious target of planting ten billion trees, while keeping our cities clean by managing solid waste is next objective.

He said efforts are also being made to generate electricity from the solid waste as being done in rest of the world.

He said we have to clean air and water pollution, for which we have to first change mindset of the people to get them realize its importance.

The Prime Minister hinted at introducing a system of reward and punishment to overcome climate change hazards.

He said deputy commissioners and other officials, who perform well in this movement of Clean-Green Pakistan, should be rewarded and this should be reflected in their Annual Confidential Reports as well.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam briefed that Attock and Bannu districts clinched the first position on the climate change index in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa respectively.

Speaking about the spike in coronavirus cases, Prime Minister cautioned that a second wave of the pandemic may hit cities with a high level of pollution in coming months as the winter season approaches.

He noted that several cities, where pollution levels are high, experience smog during October and November, when temperatures start to drop.

“I fear that in these two months — October and November [...] cities like Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Gujranwala, where there is more pollution [...] there might be a second spike in coronavirus cases. The cases are rising gradually and we hope that they don’t increase quickly and we are monitoring it,” he told participants of the event.

He further said that during the winter, “pollution becomes stagnant in the atmosphere”, leading to the spread of diseases.