Naya Pakistan Housing Program to COP26; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

November 7, 2021

Naya Pakistan Housing Program in Doldrums

With the barring all federal institutions from acquiring land for housing project, the PTI government has virtually abolished its own flagship Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP). Because the authorities concerned like the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA) and Naya Pakistan Housing Authority (NPHA) would not be able now to acquire land for providing housing units to the needy people on affordable rates.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan. On that development Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar said in a tweet: `Today decades-old unjust system under which land was acquired forcibly from locals of Islamabad has ended by the cabinet.” However, the decision is unfair for the people who had already received payments for their land under any government award (fixing of government price for land) and beneficial for those who had not received it as they would get market price for their land.

COP26 Climate Summit Kicks Off

With the start of COP26 climate summit, the world leaders are asked to must act to `save humanity`. More than 120 heads of state and government are gathering in Glasgow for a two-day summit at the start of the UN`s COP26 conference, which organizers say is crucial for charting humanity`s path away from catastrophic global warming.

COP26 is being billed as vital for the continued viability of the Paris Agreement, which countries signed in 2015 by promising to limit global temperature rises to `well below` two degrees Celsius, and to work for a safer 1.5C cap. UN chief Antonio Guterres spoke in the historic COP26 climate summit with code-red warnings from scientists ringing in their ears. `It`s time to say: enough. Enough of brutalizing biodiversity. Enough of killing ourselves with carbon. Enough of treating nature like a toilet. Enough of burning and drilling and mining our way deeper. We are digging our own graves.” Guterres says in the Summit.

Lahore becomes the World’ most Polluted City

Lahore is now declared the most polluted city in the world, with the severest air quality index (AQI). The international monitoring bodies put the score of Lahore AQI at 397 while the official air quality index by the city was reported at 289, as per the average between 9 am and 5 pm.

Now Lahore has overtaken its traditional rival New Delhi far behind which stood at the score of 187.

“At 397 AQI, [or particulate matter (PM) 2.5], the pollution concentration is 34.8 times higher than the annual air quality value set by the World Health Organization. This is, what environmentalists call, hazardous with it getting ‘extremely hazardous’ at individual points,” maintains an expert of air quality. But an official of the environment department claims “What makes the matter dangerous is that it was not smog, it was pure pollution.” Besides “what is extremely worrying as well, is the fact that it is purely indigenous,” he adds

Petition against Ravi Riverfront Project

The Lahore High Court has dismissed the objection of the Punjab government and declared the petitions against the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RRUDP) “maintainable”. The petitions against the project were filed by some advocates and others on behalf of the farmers, who challenged the mode and manner of the land acquisition proceedings undertaken by the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) for the project.

During the hearing the judge stayed the process of land acquisition for the project for not meeting the legal requirements and environmental laws. They also questioned the legality of forceful acquisitions of land for commercial purposes under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Moreover, some of the petitioners questioned the legality of the Environment Impact Assessment of the project prepared by a nonregistered consultant.

SBCA under Radar for Illegal Constructions in Karachi

The Sindh High Court finally summoned this week the Director General and other officials of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) for failing to take action against illegal constructions in Karachi city, especially in areas of North Nazimabad, Liaquatabad and Lyari. The bench observed that directives were issued to the DG and Deputy Director-Central in February 2017 to take action against illegal and unauthorized constructions in North Nazimabad`s Block I. However, a report of the member inspection team-II of the SHC said that the DG-SBCA had not filed a compliance report.

Eight petitioners had approached the SHC in 2014 against illegal construction and the court had ordered action in 2017. On non-compliance they again approached the SHC and sought contempt proceedings against SBCA officials for flouting the earlier order. On that the apex court has summoned the DC of SBCA.

Two other petitions were also filed against the SBCA officials and the petitioners submitted that they allowed illegal constructions in Bihar Colony, Lyari and Liaquatabad. Besides, this week also the SHC ordered the SBCA chief to take action against his subordinates for allegedly allowing illegal constructions in the Saddar area.

Decline in Cement Sales

Cement sales witnessed a drop of 7% with the start of this fiscal year. As during the first four months of the current fiscal year it comes down from 19.33 million tons to 18 million tons in 2021-22. Citing the reasons a cement manufacturer revealed that input cost of cement has been continuously rising while cement is also not fetching reasonable export price.

The decline has been observed in both domestic sales and export sector. According to sources, local sales seem to have exhibited on a year-on-year basis a drop given a pent-up demand after Covid-19 led lockdowns, whereas exports are down due to higher sea freight cost, making exports unfeasible. While the spokesman of All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association said that continuous increase in input costs coupled with the recent hike in rupee-dollar parity are major concerns for the industry, because these price escalations are seriously affecting the cost of doing business in local as well as in international markets.

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