The Clean Green Pakistan Index: A futile exercise?

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Lahore has risen to alarming levels. Pakistan’s cities are ridiculously congested. They often feature a polluted water supply, over flowing garbage and toxic air pollution. As many environmentalists point out, they are gradually becoming unlivable, which is why many of us have welcomed the recent introduction of the Clean Green Pakistan Index. This index aims to encourage competition among Pakistan’s cities on various indicators like access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation, effective solid waste management and tree plantation. The index was launched in Islamabad this week and Prime Minister Imran Khan gave the example of his home-town Lahore which, in his younger days, was a green city with pure tap water and clean air. “Today you can’t breath in Lahore. The worsening air quality is threatening the lives of the elderly and the young. It is a silent killer and now, Lahore’s pollution levels have reached those of Delhi, making it the second or third most polluted city in the world,” he stated. He blamed the previous government for not thinking about the adverse impacts of uncurtailed de-forestation. He claimed that they had cut 70% of Lahore’s green cover in the last 10 years to build roads, adding that his own government was committed to a clean and green Pakistan. Malik Amin Aslam, the Advisor to the PM on Climate Change. said that the new index will encourage competition between 19 cities of the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces on providing important services like waste collection and waste-water treatment.

In an earlier meeting with environmentalists in Islamabad, Aslam explained how the Chinese government had obtained success with a similar competition amongst their growing cities, “The introduction of quantifiable environment performance in China brought about noticeable change in their local municipalities.” He stated that around 35 indicators had been included in the Pakistani index and the project was going to be implemented within the next six months with funding from the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB). The private sector was also being encouraged to invest in waste-water treatment and solid waste management.

The PTI government has already introduced an app which can be downloaded by local government officials and private citizens, with defined activities that will be awarded bronze, silver and gold in recognition of best practices. At the launch, Aslam also said that, as part of the initiative, students from schools and universities would be engaged. […]

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