FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Pakistan's CPEC expressway hits environment roadblock
Posted:Jun 28, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Mohammad Zubair Khan
 
The E-35, or Hazara Expressway, is a 110 kilometre under-construction expressway linking Hasan Abdal in Pakistan's Punjab province with Haripur, Havelian, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Shinkiari, Battagram and Thakot in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
 
These cities are famous for their natural beauty, nestled as they are in the Himalayas. The expressway is facing the ire of local people for the damage it is doing to that environment.
 
People affected by the construction work in the districts of Battagram and Abbottabad have brought the construction to a halt. In Battagram work resumed after negotiations, but in Abbottabad locals are not allowing work to begin on a ten-kilometre stretch.
 
Anwar Baig, a property dealer and the senior member of the action committee set up in Battagram district, told thethirdpole.net that the tribal jirga set a deadline of July 5 for the government to fulfill the demands raised by the committee. If this deadline was not met, construction work in Battagram would be stopped as well.
 
"We will not compromise on the compensation [for land acquired by the government for the expressway], but we are also concerned about the environmental hazards which are now affecting the local communities," he said.
 
Baig said that earlier, the temperature in Battagram never went beyond 30 degrees Celsius, but this year it soared to 40. The locals were blaming this spike on the felling of trees and the sustained use of heavy machinery in the area where China is building a vast network of railways and highways as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at an estimated cost of $62 billion.
 
The committee had demanded that a revised plan be presented to deal with these environmental changes, especially the cutting of trees and the construction work, he added.
 
Malik Maqsood Ahmed, a British-Pakistani, with businesses in London, is the president of the committee of the affected people in Abbottabad. He said that until their demands were met, they would not allow the construction of the road.
 
Both Baig and Ahmed are clear that they do not oppose the construction, or the CPEC, but they want fair compensation for the land, as had been promised, and a reduction in the environmental destruction in the region.
 
According to the information obtained from the National Highway Authority (NHA) and the revenue ministry of KP, 120 villages and 5,000 families will be affected by the road project. Half of these families who will have to relocate are from the lower middle class.
 
According to the KP forest department, 27,059 trees have already been cut down and 50,000 more will be felled for the project.
 
When contacted, the KP Environment Protection Agency said that the NHA had done an Environment Impact Assignment (EIA) report in 2013 but had not shared the results.
 
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) had uploaded an EIA report obtained in 2012, but the construction work only started in 2016 when the mega expressway route was changed and extended from Havalian to Thakot. It is not clear if the change and extension of the route had been factored in.
 
According to legal experts, a new EIA report must be filed, and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) needs to be issued. This is legally binding under the Environmental Protection Act (2014) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
 
Malik Amin Aslam, the Chairperson of Green Growth Program of KP and global Vice President of IUCN, said, "The EIA is a tool which would compile the environmental costs and benefits of all CPEC projects including the effect of tree cutting if being done. The cutting of any tree does certainly have a damaging effect on local climatic conditions."
 
Aslam, who is a former environment minister of Pakistan, said: "This is certainly a very fragile region ecologically and also one which is highly vulnerable to climate change owing to its geographic topography. In fact, what we have recommended through the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of all CPEC projects which would provide a clear picture of the environmental impacts and the possible remedial measures required. Such an undertaking would not only ensure the eco-integrity, public transparency and global credibility of CPEC but also strengthen a long term sustainable future for Pakistan,
 
Mandi Zaman, a former deputy attorney general of KP, backs the idea of an SEA. "Pakistan and its Himalayan Hindu Kush region is already facing natural disasters due to climate change and environmental degradation. Now if the construction of the mega projects ignores the environment, it will bring more destruction to the community," he said.
 
Mustaq Ahmad Ghani, an elected Member of the KP Assembly from Abbottabad and spokesperson for the KP government, said that KP was already facing financial losses as well as loss of lives due to climate change. In this scenario, it was important to do a proper environment study in the area where CPEC infrastructure construction is under way.
 
He said that the provincial government was in touch with federal authorities to convince them to pay reasonable compensation to those affected and to conduct an environmental study that is of international standards. With the July 5 deadline fast approaching, it is to be seen how federal and provincial authorities deal with the demands of the people in the path of CPEC.
 
(In arrangement with thethirdpole.net)
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image India’s Vice President Mohammed Hamid Ansari visited Armenia recently to celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
 
read-more
The US has slammed Pakistan for failing to crackdown on terror groups operating from "safe havens" inside its territory, and said the Nawaz Sharif government did not take any action against the LeT and JeM, which continue to operate openly.
 
read-more
In dispatching its  PLA (Peoples Liberation Army)  marines to Djibuti in the Horn of Africa on Wednesday (July 12 ) by amphibious ships, from the southern port of Zhanjiang, China has taken a significant step in enhancing its  trans-border military footprint.
 
read-more
It is becoming increasingly obvious that China is experiencing a sort of superiority obsession, imagining it can dominate and conquer the world. Several Chinese acts in the recent past indicate such an attitude. Asian nations, which are now apprehensive about China’s aggressive postures, are unclear how matters will shape up.
 
read-more
It is appalling to see how the struggle for self-determination in Kashmir has been reduced to bitter recriminations between Pakistan and India.
 
read-more
As Aadhaar becomes the norm in India, and gets skewered for the involuntary nature of its imposition, our northern neighbours, as is their wont, want to do a number that will make this appear benign.
 
read-more
South Asia is situated in a strategically important location and has always been bone of a contention for control by major powers.
 
read-more
It was just at the end of spring that the unquiet American President was talking big about being the man who can seal the deal on Israeli-Palestinian peace.
 
read-more
S.T. Lee Distinguished Lecture of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Singapore on "India, ASEAN and Changing Geopolitics”
 
read-more
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Column-image

This is the continuing amazing spiritual journey of a Muslim man from Kerala who plunged into Vedic religion after a chance encounter with a Hindu mystic under a jackfruit tree in the backyard of his house when he was just nine. It is a story w...

 
Column-image

History is told by the victors but in our modern age, even contemporary events get - or are given - a slant, where some contributors soon get eclipsed from the narrative or their images tarnished.

 
Column-image

Humans have long had a fear of malignant supernatural beings but there may be times when even the latter cannot compare with the sheer evil and destructiveness mortals may be capable of. But then seeking to enable the end of the world due to it...

 
Column-image

Title: Reporting Pakistan; Author: Meena Menon; Publisher: Viking/Penguin Random House; Pages: 340; Price: Rs 599

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive