Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and Federal Minister for Environment & Climate Change Sherry Rehman agreed to work on various eco-tourism projects. During a meeting held on Saturday at the CM house, the two decided to work on depollution of Manchhar Lake, development of eco-tourism on Keenjhar Lake and Miani Forest, establishing fisheries cold chains and development of sustainable Fisheries Management Framework. It was briefed that the federal government has established the ‘National Disaster Risk Management Fund (NDRMF)’ to finance the sub-projects that would contribute to enhancing Pakistan’s resilience to climatic and other natural hazards and to strengthen the government’s ability to respond to disasters triggered by natural hazards. The fund was also mandated to support climate related interventions for climate change adaptation and mitigation. It has already committed an amount of US$ 38.78 million nationally for implementing the relevant projects and complimenting the realization of National Disaster Management Plan (NDMP) and National Flood Protection Plan (NEPP-IV). Sherry said that the fund was planning to initiate proposal processing for Phase-II by November 2022 with anticipated approval of financing for the same by June 2023. The chief minister said that the NDRMF had approved the project ‘Towards Resilient Marine Ecosystem and Sustainable Blue Economy’ for Rs 1.98 billion. The location of the year-long project, (2022-23 & 2023-2024) was the coastal areas of District Thatta, Sujawal, Badin & Karachi. The project consists of two main components: Resilient Marine Ecosystem and Utilization of salinized land. Resilient Marine Ecosystem through Sustainable Management of Fisheries Resource ecosystem includes different components as follows: Establishment of fisheries protected areas through community engagement,establishment of community policing through Fisheries Stewardship Agreements (FSA) in identified areas, development of Sustainable Fisheries Management Framework (SFMF) for coastal fisheries (all jetties), establishment of fisheries cold chain and development of support facilities on two landing centres. Installation of flake ice machine / chilling unit with cold storage on two landing centres, installation of RO plant for clean water supply along with solar system compatible with RO on two landing centers, expansion of existing floating pontoon on two jetties, establishment & management of field offices (porta cabin), establishment of check posts (porta cabin), installation of chillers / flake ice machines on boats, provision of fish handling equipment to small boats and traders, including iceboxes, fish crates and fish basket. Replacing harmful fishing gears with sustainable gear, sensitization of unsustainable and illegal unreported & unregulated (IUU) fishing. Convert at least 50 fishing trawlers to sustainable fishing boats (gill-netters etc.), monitoring movement of fishing boats through installation of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) on boats. Utilization of salinized land caused by sea intrusion for aquaculture. This project too has different components, including establishment of model demonstration aquaculture farm; model farms for backyard culturing of fin fish and shellfish, provision of livelihoods and family nutrition support for women, development of backyard aquaculture ponds on no more than one acre area with all required facilities for women and families of coastal areas, provision of expert / technical services for backyard aquaculture systems, support for improving fish drying practices for women entrepreneurs, provision of 24/7 extension services for target districts and training & exposure of 1000 farmers and fishermen. The chief minister said that the projects were already approved for the current financial year. He added that he wanted to start work on them at the earliest. The federal minister assured the chief minister that their funds would be released at the earliest so that the projects could be started. He said that the Eco-Tourism Village at Miani Forest Hyderabad was a project worth Rs. 645 million. He added that the Mini Forest was 13 km from Hyderabad city via Hyderabad Bypass. The site had attracted recreational forest area due to its natural beauty and was considered a historical place. Mini Forest was on the national highway which made it easily accessible and connected it with all major cities of the province. The project would have a catchment area comprising not only Hyderabad, but also Karachi and other major regions, he said. Talking about Eco-Tourism Recreational Activities at Manchar Lake, he said that it was a Rs 910 million scheme. “Manchar is the largest shallow freshwater lake in Pakistan and it plays an important role as a natural habitat.” The lake supported numerous fisher folk who depended on the fish in the lake, Murad said, adding that the water of the lake used to be clear but environmental degradation had caused its quality to drop. The CM said that the main Nara Valley drain had caused the lake to undergo environmental degradation. “The Road leading towards Manchar lake is from the old Indus highway which makes it easily accessible and connects it with all major cities of Sindh,” he said, adding that the project would have a catchment area comprising not only Hyderabad but also Karachi and other major regions. Federal Minister Sherry Rehman urged the provincial government to prepare both the schemes of eco-tourism, get them approved from PDWP and then send the same to the federal government. She added the federal government would fund the scheme either through NDRMF or any other source.