KARACHI (PPI) - Federal Minister for Environment Hameedullah Jan Afridi has said that the government has decided to cancel all the forest land, which has been allocated by the provincial as well as federal governments for non-forest use in the country. He was speaking at 6th Annual Environment Excellence Awards and Corporate Dialogue on environment management, organized by National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) in collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at a local hotel. Askari Taqvi Provincial Minister Sindh, Javed jabber Global Vice President IUCN, Dr. Kaiser Waheed, Naveed A. Khawaja, Naeem Qureshi President NFEH, Zaheer Beg, Yasin Malik Chairman PSO, Dr. Sami-uz-Zaman, Ted Merra, Naeem Mughal, Dr. Nasim Ahmed Vice Chancellor Hamdard University, Gulzar Feroz of FPCCI & Others also spoke on the occasion. Afridi said that unfortunately, Sindh province is leading in allocating forest land for non-forest use, which is about 111,000 hectares, out of total 155,000 hectares allocated in the entire country. He said under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the country has to increase the green cover to 6 percent, which is presently only 5 percent. The Federal Minister for Environment pointed out that the government would plant the record 450,000 sapling of mangroves in Keti Bandar coast in Thatta district on July 15, which would break the earlier Guinness Book of World Record of plantation of 447,000 sapling in a single daylight. He regretted that Pakistan is 35th polluter in the world. People are in habit of throwing litter without realising the importance of the environment. The government would shortly come up with anti-littering law. The federal government would start implementing the anti-littering law from Islamabad and after its success it would share the success with the provinces to take similar actions, he added. Afridi said that the federal government has already declared 2009 as the Year of Environment to create awareness among the masses. Adequate allocations of funds have been made by both Planning Commission and Finance Ministry for environmental protection, he added. He regretted that the world is losing $365 billion per day because of pollution, which is equal to 1 billion dollar per day, that money can be saved. The provincial Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) have miserable failed to enforce the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) and other environmental laws and industries are creating air and water pollution. oI have repeatedly said that If they did not play their role, the federal government would make legislation to include the environment subject into concurrent list and then federal government would take action against polluting industries. India has already made environment as federal subject, he added. The government is very serious in protecting environment and major policies like Forest Policy are being revised. The Clean Drinking Water Policy would be announced this year to provide safe water to the masses. The government is seriously taking measures to ban use of polythene bags. However, he said more than 8,000 industries are involved in manufacturing these bags and 750,000 workers are feared lose their jobs if these industries are closed down. oWe believe in dialogue and we have invited all the stakeholders to have dialogue on this issue, he added. For this purpose, he said the federal government is also interacting with chambers of commerce and industries for an amicable solution. He congratulated the recipients of the award and hoped that more and more industries would follow the environmental laws. Speaking on the occasion, Sindh Minister for Environment and Alternate Energy Askari Taqvi said that the provincial government has taken a number of measures to protect environment of the province. The provincial EPA has issued notices to 75 industries in the SITE industrial area in Karachi and to 25 industries in Korangi industrial area for not complying with the environmental laws. He said industries are creating air and water pollution in the city without any check. Taqvi said in Karachi a number of flyovers have been constructed, but most of them did not conducted Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) before start of the work. EPA initiated process in most of the case when the construction work on the flyovers have already initiated. The EPA would not allow construction of any infrastructure project from now unless EIA is not conducted, he added. Under the EPA laws, the punitive action can also be taken against contractors of those projects and fines of millions of rupees can be imposed. He said the CNG buses have started plying on city roads and more buses would be added in the fleet. Old buses have played havoc in the environment of the city and the government is now computerizing the system to issue fitness certificates to buses. He pointed out that in Sindh driving licences are issued by police department, where as in Punjab it is being issued by Transport Department. Earlier, speaking on the occasion of Corporate Dialogue, the Vice President of IUCN Javed Jabbar underlined the need to for creating awareness among masses about environmental issues. He said even the UK majority of people do not know about biodiversity. He said the IUCN would observe the next year as year of biodiversity. He said IUCN is the only organization in the world, whose members are government, non-governmental organizations and scientists. The IUCN creates awareness about environmental matters. In Pakistan IUCN helped the government in preparation of National Conservation Strategy in 1992. He emphasized the need that the environment laws and policies should be enforced in their letter and spirit. Earlier, in his welcome address, NFEH President Naeem Qureshi said the awards have been instituted to recognize and promote the organizations, which make an outstanding contribution to sustainable development. They aim to highlight policies, practices, processes and products from all sectors of business in the country, which help achieve economic and social development without harming the environment and natural resources. Later Afridi gave Environment Awards to - AES Lal Pir, Dawood Hercules Chemicals, Engro Chemicals Pakistan, English Biscuit Manufacture, Glaxo Smith Kline Pakistan, Habib Oil Mills, Highnoon Laboratories Ltd, ICI Pakistan, Mobilink (PMCL) Pakistan, Oil and Gas Development Company, Pakistan Petroleum Ltd, Pakistan Refinery Ltd, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Oil Fields, Pakistan State Oil, Pak Elektron Ltd, Siemens Pakistan Engineering Co Ltd. Three environmental journalists were awarded on the occasion for their outstanding performance in reporting environmental issues. They included Talha Jatoi of Geo TV, Jan Khaskheli of The News and Hamid Hussain of Online News Agency.