International CSR Summit: AJK president offers LWMC to do municipal waste disposal work in Azad Kashmir

ISLAMABAD: The Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) has been invited to offer its services in areas of Azad, Jammu & Kashmir where garbage disposal has lately become one of the main civic issues owing to increased influx of tourists visiting its recreational spots from all over Pakistan.

The offer directly came from Azad, Jammu & Kashmir President Sardar Masood Khan while speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural session of 10th International Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Summit organized by National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) here on Thursday. The offer was made in the presence of LWMC Managing-Director Bilal Mustafa Syed who was one of the keynote speakers at the inaugural session of the summit.

Speaking on the occasion, LWMC MD Syed showed overwhelming willingness to accept the offer to do waste management work in Azad Kashmir areas as one step ahead to conserve natural beauty of tourist destinations in Northern parts of the country whose environment should be conserved and safeguarded as people in large number started visiting them with advancement in mobility options for them and related improvement of road infrastructure.

The AJK president said at the summit that Azad Kashmir had emerged as one of the regions of the country where proper waste disposal work should be launched on preferable basis. “Lately people in increasing numbers from all over the country, from all the regions and provinces have started visiting every year our tourist spots including Neelum Valley, Leepa Valley, Pir Chinasi, Toli Pir, Banjosa Lake and others as these areas have become increasable accessible for masses,” said AJK president.

Khan said that resultant situation had created the problem on considerable basis of management and disposal of municipal waste in tourists’ spots of Azad Kashmir. He said that Azad Kashmir didn’t have the capacity to properly manage and dispose of increasing amount of waste. “Then there is the issue of increasing amount of hazardous waste including plastic shopping bags generated as people of Azad Kashmir have lately started consuming general consumer products packaged in polythene packing in large number owing to general affluence reflected in their lifestyle with economic boom flourishing in the region,” he said.

He said that proper waste disposal and management practices had to be adopted in Azad Kashmir for conserving its several places serving as tourist attractions for people from all over the country. He said that industries should properly manage and dispose of waste generated by them as part of their fundamental CSR-related obligations. “That is what we are trying to inculcate among the fledgling industries of Azad Kashmir, which have been working in a number of sectors including textiles, paper, rubber, tyres, automobiles, furniture, and food products,” he said.

He said that Azad Kashmir was at the verge of experiencing an economic and industrial revolution as the AJK State was part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. He said that one of the proposed special economic zones (SEZ) in Pakistan as part of the CPEC regime would be established in Mirpur , Azad Kashmir. He said that at the proposed SEZ of Mirpur, initially industries from Pakistan and China would be invited to invest while at a later stage, industries from all over the country would be invited to come over and set up industrial units here.

The AJK president said that AJK government had the special focus on launching initiatives and programmes at Azad Kashmir universities to impart training and education to youth of the area related to different technical skills. He said that businesses and industries being established in Azad Kashmir required people having qualifications related to different technical skills. He said that health and hygiene was another area of Azad Kashmir like elsewhere in Pakistan where corporate sector should launch project as part of their CSR obligations to improve living standards of people of under-privileged areas. Khan said that government should incentivize to the maximum possible extent launching of CSR-related initiatives by the corporate sector especially in the preferred regime of public-private partnership.

LWMC MD said the public sector company he had been heading, had been doing its best to offer waste disposal practices in areas of Lahore Division with a workforce of 15,000 people among which 30 per cent were women. He said that a massive public awareness campaign had been launched especially targeting students in schools and colleges in Lahore Division areas so that people should be encouraged to adopt good waste disposal practices being responsible citizens of Lahore.

The same awareness campaign is also targeting people in other districts of Lahore division that were Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, and Kasur. He said that same awareness campaign should be launched for visitors and natives of Northern parts of the country to conserve natural beauty and environment of its scenic areas.

In his welcome remarks, NFEH President Naeem Qureshi said that CSR Summit had emerged as the only event in the country, which was being organized every year with regularity to thoroughly discuss issues, problems and emerging trends in philanthropic and charitable work being done by the corporate sector in Pakistan and in the adjoining region.