PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary, three administrative secretaries and a senior police official to produce a detailed report on the death of 10 people due to toxic effluent discharged by a Dera Ismail Khan sugar mill.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Malik Manzoor Hussain ordered the chief secretary, home, environment and industries secretaries, and the deputy inspector general of police (DIG) DI Khan Range to produce the joint, detailed report within 15 days explaining the negligence on part of the relevant officials.

It was hearing an application filed by several people of the area, where the incident took place.

They had sent the application to the Human Rights Directorate of the high court requesting the chief justice to take notice of the issue and order action against the responsible people.

The incident took place on May 2 when 10 people were killed due to toxic effluent discharged from the Chashma Sugar Mills in Ramak village of Parowa tehsil.

Some people had fallen unconscious crossing a watercourse and when others came to help them out they got trapped resulting in death of 10 people.

The incident triggered violent protest in the area as protesters attacked the sugar mill and ransacked it.

When the bench began hearing, the chief justice told additional advocate general Mian Arshad Jan that the court had received the application from the aggrieved people.

He observed that the applicants stated that when the said sugar mill was set up in the area commitment was made by the management that they would be responsible for checking the effluent so that no toxic substance was discharged in it and would save the inhabitants of the area from toxicity of the waste.

However, the applicants said the management had not taken any such step and were involved in discharging poisonous waste water from the mill.

Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel observed that the court had directed the senior civil judge at DI Khan to record statements of the aggrieved people.

He observed that according to the complainants the official negligence was also involved in this tragedy as despite their complaint the authorities had not taken any action against the said mill.

The court directed the AAG to also find out how much compensation was given to the legal heirs of the deceased persons as the court had learnt that only Rs100,000 was given to teach of the aggrieved family which was nominal amount and thus an injustice with the bereaved families.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2014

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