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PR No. 97 Government committed to make TAPI Gas Pipeline Programme Environmentally-safe, says Climate Change Parliamentary Secretary Romina Khurshid Alam Islamabad: May 15, 2018

Parliamentary Secretary Ministry of Climate Change, Romina Khurshid Alam on Tuesday said the government is making all-out efforts to ensure that nearly 800-km long portion of the 825 kilometres-long of TAPI gas pipeline project is constructed in full conformity of the international, national and provincial environmental laws the country to protect environment, biodiversity and local communities from any negative its impacts. Speaking as the chief guest at the National scoping workshop held as part of the Environmental & Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Study of TAPI Pipeline project in Pakistan, she said, “I assure here on behalf of the Government of Pakistan will fully support TAPI Gas Pipeline project vis-à-vis ensuring compliance to Environmental Acts, Rules, and Regulations both at Federal and Provincial levels,” said Miss Khurshid Alam on the occasion. M/s. Environmental Management Consultants (EMC) Pakistan organized the workshop as being the local associate of international consortium of consultants M/s. MAB, M/s. Naftec and M/s. Jacobs working on ESIA of total 1,814 kms-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. She said that participants of the workshop would be helpful in identifying the scope of negative and positive aspects of the TAPI project in Pakistan so to make it more sustainable, environment, and climate friendly. “Do share with us whatever are the recommendations and deliberations of this workshop so to incorporate them in our plan to build this project to mitigate to the maximum possible extent any adverse social and environmental impacts of this pipeline project,” said the parliamentary secretary for Climate Change. She said the federal government would provide full assistance and coordination so that the TAPI pipeline project was built in accordance with different provincial environmental laws, guidelines, and regulations as after the 18th Constitutional Amendment the subject of the environment had been fully devolved to the provinces. Muhammad Shakeel Malik, additional secretary of Ministry of Climate Change, said that construction of TAPI project would emerge as the national level bench mark of compliance with environmental standards and regulations. He said the transnational gas pipeline project would also emerge as a supreme example of regional cooperation to overcome persisting energy shortfall in Pakistan and in neighbouring countries. He said the government would fully make sure that construction and operation of the TAPI project in Pakistan should fully comply with National Environmental Quality Standards and rules and regulations of environmental watchdogs of Balochistan and Punjab-the two provinces in Pakistan from which the gas pipeline would pass through. “This scoping workshop would be helpful in meeting the national, provincial, and local level environmental requirements as stipulated in the law,” said the additional secretary Climate Change. Syed Nadeem Arif, managing director of EMC Pakistan, informed the audience that four separate ESIA studies were being undertaken for the TAPI project one each for Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. He said that ESIA of the project would comply with local and international environmental standards including the regulations set by leading global financial institutions to assess the environmental, socio-economic, and community health components of major developmental projects. This among other regulations will also include performance standards of International Finance Corporation. Asif Shuja Khan, former director general of Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently working as Chief Operating Officer at EMC Pakistan, said that TAPI project would pass through 17 districts of the including nine of Punjab and eight of Balochistan having variant and complex topography of land, environmental, natural habitat, social, wildlife, and biodiversity features. “These all aspects would be taken care of well in the ESIA study being conducted for the project to suggest the best mitigation measures to lessen harmful impacts on environment, flora, fauna, natural resources, and habitat of these areas,” he said. He said that proper air quality, noise, physical environmental, ecological surveys, socio-economic, human resettlement surveys would be carried out in sample areas of the country to conduct ESIA for the project as being a lawful requirement. Former chief of Pakistan EPA said that a series of consultative workshop would be held at the national, provincial, and district levels with the concerned government departments, civil society organizations, academia, and research organizations to make the 10 billion US Dollars-project meet the lawful, socio-economic, cultural, and archeological, and heritage requirements of areas of Pakistan through which it would pass through. Khaled Nassar, Team leader of NAFTEC/MAB (the international ESIA partner firm of the project), said that TAPI project would be built in the four regional countries in a manner that it should fully conserve the environment, wildlife, natural habitat of their areas from which pass through. He said that TAPI project would be implemented to protect livelihood prospects of the local communities whereas it would also generate massive employment opportunities for the skilled people in the areas nearby to the gas pipeline. Saquib Ejaz Hussain, project manager ESIA study from EMC Pakistan, said that 23 locations had been properly identified all along the proposed route of TAPI pipeline in Pakistan for conducting surveys of physical environment as part of the ESIA for the project. Similarly, around 15 major locations have been identified in the country for air quality and noise surveys to determine baseline situation along the gas pipeline route. Ecological, archaeological, socioeconomic and resettlement surveys will also be conducted by multidisciplinary teams engaged by EMC. He said that a proper grievances redressal mechanism would be defined as part of the ESIA document to meet the international requirements to resolve possible environmental and social grievances caused due to construction of the project. He said that land acquisition and human resettlement aspects of the TAPI project would be carried out in the country well in accordance with the international lawful requirements so that nobody living in the areas of the project should be deprived of his or her rightful compensation package after acquiring his living place or agricultural land. “The project would be carried out in Pakistan in a manner that local communities would fully own it as per the international aspirations,” he said. He assured the audience that ESIA would be duly presented before environmental watchdogs of Punjab and Balochistan for approval as afterwards the document would attain a binding legal status. Meanwhile, audience of the workshop especially those from Balochistan asked about measures taken to safeguard environment, wildlife, national parks, and water resources of the province especially in those areas where the gas pipeline would pass through. The concerned participants also asked about the possible socio-economic benefits the projects would generate for the backward areas of Balochistan and also about possible share of the province in the gas supply Pakistan would receive after commissioning of the project. Mr. Majdi Salameh, Dr. Wael, Mr. Shams Ul Haq Memon, Mr. Azhar Saif, Mr. Farooq Qamar, Dr. Ijaz, Dr. Irfan Khan, Dr. Aleem Chaudhry, representatives from ADB and World Bank, forest and wildlife departments and NGOs also spoke at the occasion. ***** ?

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