Published Date: Jun 5, 2012
Lets celebrate without wildfires
June 5 is celebrated as World Environment Day to raise awareness of the need to take positive action. Run under Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme, the Day marked the UN Conference on the Human Environment held on June 5-16, 1972, in the Swedish capital Stockholm. The day for the first time was observed in 1973.
Every year, the day comes with a lot of anti-environment fanfare in the federal capital of this Islamic Republic though most of us do not notice this.
I remember that in the wee hours of June 5 in 1984, when I was going to Quaid-i-Azam University on my motorbike after finishing my duty in ‘The Muslim’, I saw the Margalla Hills burning with wild fires at many points. Obviously I had not married then and was still an ‘angry young man.’ I did not sleep before penning down a strong article against CDA’s incapacity.
CDA which later employed not only bush-beaters but also helicopters for fire-fighting most of the time failed to control the colossal damage to the beauty of the city.
This year around, we are already seeing effects of Climate Change right at our doorsteps. One manifestation was disturbance in the weather and changing patterns of crops. I did not see earthworms and parwanas (moths) which herald onsetting of Monsoon for the past some years.
But the most glaring example was the creation of a full-fledged Ministry of Climate Change headed by Rana Farooq Saeed who as a Minister of Textile perhaps was convinced that Climate Change was a major reason of decline in the yields of cotton and other crops. Now he has got a challenging ministry and we will see how he handles it.
It is a question of capacity building, right from the minister to a peon.
The ministry situated near ILO offices had a lofty dead tree for the past many years at its front lawns, which it could not replace despite my two pieces and photographs on it. How much care it might be taking elsewhere in the country is anybody’s guess. Or I should accept the logic of Dr Abid Suleri of SDPI that the whiz kids of the ministry might be retaining the dead tree to show the visitors what is deforestation.
Getting angry on such matters, the youth of today, which also includes youth of yore, has found another way of venting its anger. It is by posting comments on social media like Twitter and Facebook. I also recalled my old days and out of passion left a message for CDA to allow the Islooites to celebrate the day this year without Margalla fires — for a change.
This is Monday and I am sitting at SDPI office in between Rawal Lake and Margalla Hills and seeing a helicopter that made at least half a dozen trips with a huge bucket to carry water for extinguishing the ragging flames on the Margallas. One can only wish that this time around, the picturesque hills remain free of fires today, June 5.
The fires reflect upon our civic sense also. Cigarette butts thrown carelessly can ignite the dry leaves, straws and consequently bushes, plants and trees. But at times, it is for “straightening the record” of corruption and deliberate miscounting of the same CDA staff which allows cutting of unauthorised woods.
It is the responsibility of all, individuals as well as organisations to keep a check on environmental degradation. It is a collective obligation. Do something before it is too late. We got this world not to destroy it but as an ‘amanat’ (trust) which we will have to hand over to the posterity in a better condition.