Environment is everything around us; living or non-living. Environment is in both the ecosystem as well as in social system. Developmental era in human history gave an idea to human beings that nature and its resource should be preserved in their original shape otherwise life would become difficult to continue. The progress and development on industrial fronts and improvements in technologies made the provisions of facilities and leisures but it actually started to disturb the natural balance in the world. It was termed as pollution and sense to reduce it started to increase. In the beginning, it was ignored but it was evitable to work seriously for reduction in pollution with the aim to preserve the Environment.
A new field of study was evolved as Environmental Sciences. It is a broad field which deals with every interaction by a living or non living with its surroundings whether the interaction is fruitful or harmful. Environmental Science involves the study of different components of the environment that interact and result in a beneficial or harmful way for the environment and the living creatures dependent on it for their sustenance. It includes the study of pollution, global warming, forest conservation, soil erosion and the like. It also provides ability to monitor and manage the impacts of human activities scientifically involving all related disciplines.
Pakistan is a developing country and the field of Environmental Sciences is still in initial stages. Industrialization is still not much as compared with other countries but that does not mean that the environmental degradation is not in Pakistan. Actually, in some area of Pakistan, it is on the high and requires immediate steps to preserve the environment and reduce the pollution. The available record indicates that first major step for work on Environmental Conservation was started in Public Health Engineering Department in Punjab where a project titled “Environmental Protection Control, EPCO” was started in the late 70s and early 80s. The project was run successfully for good part of 10 years. However, it did not proceed from study based to implementation based as no law was available to curtail the pollution.
In 1987, first major step was taken by Punjab Government when it created Environmental Protection Agency as an attached department of PHED. Federal Government setup Ministry of Environment in 1988 which now has the name as Ministry of Climate Change. Sindh, KPK, Balochistan and AJK Governments also set up Environmental Protection Agencies in their provinces on the analogy of Punjab Government. However, the Service Rules of these Agencies and Departments did not have the degrees of Environment prescribed as at that time no University and College in Pakistan was awarding the degree of Environment. The most relevant degrees were added in service rules of the departments.
The Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997 was passed by the Parliament and it came into force for environmental preservation and pollution control. Punjab University and other Institutes set up Environment Sciences Department / Faculty to award the degree in field of Environment in year 2000. Similarly, Environmental Engineering degree was started by Engineering University, Lahore.
It was widely felt that all entities; Public and Private should work in conformity to reduce the pollution and preserve the environment. Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering got prominence. The Service Rules of Government Department dealing with environment were accordingly re-framed and amended. The enforcement of Environmental Act and rules/ regulations made there under increased the scope of degrees of Environmental Sciences and Environmental Engineering. Degrees were included in the service rules of government departments against the posts of Inspector BS-13, Senior Inspector BS-16, Assistant Director Field, BS-17, Assistant Director Research BS-17, Deputy Director Technical/ Laboratory BS-18 whereas the Industrial Plants, Factories, Pharmaceutical Organizations, Textile Mills & others started to hire an environmental expert in their organizations to control the pollution and preservation of Environment. Private consulting firms have also hired environmental scientists to render the services in the field of Environment. Further, the jobs opportunities increased for the Environment Science degree holders as all the Universities across the Pakistan has set up Environment Departments.
Presently, following degrees are offered in Pakistan in the field of Environment:-
Diplomas in Environmental Laws are also offered by some Universities. In the Punjab Environment Protection Department, numbers of Environmental Scientists are serving at different levels such as Inspector, Assistant Director, Deputy Director and Director Level. The same situation also persists in Federal Ministry of Climate Change and other provinces; Sindh, Balochistan, KPK and Azd Jammu & Kashmir. In private sector, the situation is getting better and better with every passing day. Overall, the degree in the field of Environment getting good career prospects and future seems to be very bright for the degree holders. Efforts are being done to get the subject of Environment at school & college levels.
The writer of the article is a retired Deputy Director from Environment Department, Punjab.