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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Environmental Protection Agency Plans Stalled for Two Years Due to Funding Shortfall

While EPA offices are presently operational in Khyber and Orakzai tribal districts, the expansion to other districts is contingent upon the availability of funds.
by TNN Editor - 08 Dec, 2023 1549
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Javed Khan

The implementation of the plan to establish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offices in tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has faced a significant setback over the past two years, attributed to neglect and insufficient funds from the provincial government.

Although the decision to set up EPA offices in tribal districts was made in the fiscal year 2021, the project found a place in the Accelerated Implementation Project (AEP) development plans for the fiscal year 2022-23, with a sanctioned amount of Rs. 127.131 million. Unfortunately, only Rs. 10 million was released for the project by the end of that financial year.

Similarly, in the subsequent financial year (2023-24), the provincial government once again allocated a meager one thousand rupees for the tribal districts' plan, the lowest amount released for any annual development plan. As per the EPA, this move effectively terminated the project. The establishment of EPA offices across all tribal districts aims to implement measures to minimize the adverse impacts of climate change on human populations, economies, agriculture, and various sectors, focusing on adaptation and mitigation strategies.

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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, recognized as one of the most sensitive and affected provinces by the negative effects of climate change, implemented its first provincial climate change policy in 2017. After the merger of FATA into the province in 2018, the policy was updated in 2022, accompanied by an action plan.

Muhammad Anwar Khan, Director General of EPA, highlighted that the project currently faces a standstill due to the lack of funds needed to establish offices in tribal districts like South Waziristan and Kurram.

Addressing the allocation of Rs. 1,000 for the project in the current financial year, Khan emphasized that the project has not been closed, and the token amount has been reserved to sustain its continuity.

While EPA offices are presently operational in Khyber and Orakzai tribal districts, the expansion to other districts is contingent upon the availability of funds.

Khan discussed the ecological profile of the province, noting that the merger of FATA has increased the number of ecosystems from four to nine in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Despite the absence of EPA offices in several districts, the agency aims to extend its reach to the division level, ensuring comprehensive environmental protection coverage.