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The civil society of Chitral has launched an awareness campaign regarding the effects of climate change on the environment, life and economy of landlocked and improvised district. The campaign launched by a former tehsil nazim, Sartaj Ahmad Khan is approaching the general public of Chitral and civil society-based Peshawar and Chitral and briefing them about the factual position. 

For successful implementation of the campaign, a core committee headed by Sartaj Ahmad Khan has been formed. Other office-bearers included Peshawar-based Chitrali Journalists Forum. The core committee is comprised of people from all walks of life, including religious scholars, students, teachers, doctors, elected representatives, traders and journalists. 

As part of the campaign, the forum will contact policymakers, legislators and relevant public institutions to sensitise them about the impeding threats from the climate change and a signature campaign similar to Lowari Tunnel and other campaigns will also be launched. Talking to BR, convener of Save Chitral/Save Pakistan campaign, Sartaj Ahmad Khan said the climate of mountainous or alpine areas is changing more rapidly as compared to plain areas and this trend has made Chitral, the most vulnerable district to climate change induced disaster in particular while the entire country in general.... this is what district Chitral has been experiencing for last more than two decades. 

Chitral is home to more than 540 glaciers and 137 glacial lakes, which in the year 2005 were around 187, which means that during the period of 10 years nearly 50 glacial lakes drained or resulted in glacial lake outburst floods. He said the recent flash floods, glacial lake outburst floods and other climate change induced disasters resulted in over 35 human casualties, destruction of hundreds of houses and washing away of hundreds of cattle. Almost 80 percent of the physical infrastructures including water supply schemes, irrigation channels, micro-hydel power stations, power transmission lines have been destroyed in district Chitral. Similarly, due to melting of glaciers and snow, the district during last two decades has experienced more than 12 glacial lake outbursts, which has badly affected public private infrastructure and if the present trend of glacier melting, lake outbursts and other forms of climate change induced disasters continued for another 20 to 30 years, the water discharge in River Chitral will be reduced significantly, leading to severe shortage of drinking water. 

They are stressing need for planning and preventive measures to protest the district and other parts of the country from these disasters and resulting damages. After detailed deliberations has formulated a charter of demands for the sustainable development of district Chitral. The demands are included the provision of 30 megawatt free of cost electricity from Golen Gol Hydel Power Project to the district and extension of transmission line from Arundu to extreme upper parts of Chitral. Similarly, subsidised wheat on the pattern of Gilgit-Baltistan should be provided to the residents of Chitral, forest royalty to local communities should be increased by 100%, while the people of the district should be paid royalty from the Carbon Finance Funds of the United Nations. A forest force of 500 personnel should also be formed for the prudent use of forests and other associated natural resources. Furthermore, being a source of fresh water, Chitral should be entitled for water royalty and distribution of funds from PFC should be made on the basis of area and backwardness. 

The government should establish the depots of LPG, natural gas and Charcoal in Chitral to reduce dependency on natural forests. The timber depot of Timergara should be relocated to Chitral and the population of the flood affected villages and valleys including Reshun, Golain, Brep, Rumboor, Booni, Sonoghor should be habilitated in more safe areas. 

Business Recorder,  25 September 2015

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