ISLAMABAD - The experts on Monday demanded that a close coordination and mutual implementation framework to enforce law was must to avert illegal constructions and encroachment in water bodies near peri urban areas causing serious natural hazards like urban flooding land and water pollution.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) organised the seminar titled illegal constructions in water bodies in peri-urban areas of the federal capital to stir debate and extract workable recommendations to ensure remedy to the lurking issue.

Executive Director SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, in his opening remarks, said the webinar and hybrid seminar was held on a pertinent topic that became more relevant in every monsoon season in the country.

Dr Suleri said due to urban flooding in the housing societies constructed illegally in water bodies or the Indus River that swells up in monsoon in the areas of Muzaffargarh and Kacha area got inundated that gave its inhabitants a false sense of security as it deluged their lifetime savings.

The event was organised to delve deep into this issue to derive suggestions for its resolution, he added.

Minister of State and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Convener Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Secretariat Romina Khurshid Alam said the topic was related to SDG 11 i.e. make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

She said half of the country’s population was living in urban areas with a continuous migration from rural areas, adding, “We are having the problems of air pollution, transportation, healthcare, unreliable municipal facilities etc. The illegal housing societies are a scar on the face of fertile lands of the capital. It’s damaging the ecosystems with spiking migration without proper know-how of resources and facilities available in the cities among the rural masses.”

“We will seriously take up the suggestions shared through this forum as civil society coalition is necessary for good progress on implementation of laws,” she said.

DG Pak-EPA, Farzana Altaf Shah presented a short documentary prepared by the Agency on encroachments, human settlements on the procured area of CDA in Lakhwal and other peri urban areas that were polluting land and fresh water channels, along with encroachments and illegal settlements in water bodies.