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TAPI gas pipeline project to conform with environmental laws

ISLAMABD: The government is making efforts to ensure that nearly 800-km long portion of TAPI gas pipeline project is constructed in full conformity with international, national and provincial environmental laws to protect environment, biodiversity and local communities from any negative impacts.

This was stated by Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Romina Khurshid Alam on Tuesday while speaking as the chief guest at the national scoping workshop held as part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Study of TAPI Pipeline project in Pakistan.

“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 Ms Khurshid Alam on the occasion.

Environmental Management Consultants (EMC) Pakistan organised the workshop as being the local associate of international consortium M/s. MAB, M/s. Naftec and M/s. Jacobs working on ESIA of total 1,814km-long 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 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.

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 the subject of the environment had been fully devolved to provinces.

TAPI to emerge as supreme example of regional cooperation

Additional Secretary of Ministry of Climate Change Muhammad Shakeel Malik 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 ensure that construction and operation of the TAPI project 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,” he said.

ESIA project comply with local and int’l standards

Managing Director EMC Pakistan Syed Nadeem Arif 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 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 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 by ESIA for the project as being a lawful requirement.

He added 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 project meet the lawful, socio-economic, cultural, and archeological, and heritage requirements of areas of Pakistan through which it would pass through.

TAPI project will protect livelihoods of local communities

Khaled Nassar, Team leader of NAFTEC/MAB 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 it passes 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 fifteen 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 redress 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 their rightful compensation package.

“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 and 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 backward areas of Balochistan, and also about possible share of the province in the gas supply that Pakistan would receive after commissioning of the project.

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