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KARACHI: The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency informed a two-judge bench of the Sindh High Court on Monday that the Karachi Port Trust was operating a coal handling terminal in Shireen Jinnah Colony without adhering to the environmental laws which not only constituted an environmental hazard but also posed a serious threat to the health of the workers and people living in the vicinity.

The bench headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was hearing a petition against the KPT coal terminal filed by residents of the locality.

The petitioners, represented by Advocate Khawaja Shamsul Islam, submitted that due to the coal terminal and its dumping, inhabitants of the area were facing serious environmental effects, which fuelled respiratory diseases in the locality.

They said that on average five ships carrying 35,000 to 40,000 tonnes of coal berthed every month and about 200,000 tonnes of the coal was handled at the terminal located at Iqbal Ground in Clifton Block 1.

On Monday, the Sepa director general submitted a report which said that the KPT had not obtained its approval for operating the coal handling terminal in the area.

According to the Sepa report, the whole process from unloading of coal to its dumping and transportation to different industrial units involved serious environmental hazards.

It said that during inspection, it was noted that the coal material found on the berth and jetty flowed into the port waters during washing or rain, adding to marine pollution.

The report said that during the transportation of coal from the terminal to the coal yard, a distance of three to and four kilometres, the coal dust flew into the air from the open trucks, causing air pollution throughout the route. “It is obvious that hundreds of people in this particular location could be affected from respiratory, eye and other diseases due to the air pollution containing coal dust particles”, it added.

The report said that coal dust was found in the houses situated in the densely populated area of Keamari and areas in close proximity to the terminal.

It further said that environmental issues relating to storage of coal were significantly adverse in nature as a huge quantity was being stored at the coal yard.

The report further said that in view of the coal storage site and its handling in highly densely populated area in a highly crude manner, the entire area suffered an environmental disaster.

The bench directed the KPT to submit a detailed and comprehensive report on the matter within a month.

The court also ordered the authorities concerned to ensure that the coal-laden trucks were properly covered. It further ordered the KPT to sprinkle water on the coal dumped in the open to minimise its adverse effects on the environment. The hearing was adjourned to Nov 26.

FBR promotion case

Another division bench gave a last chance to the principal secretary to the prime minister, establishment division secretary and others to file their respective comments in a petition of senior officers of the Federal Board of Revenue seeking approval of a summary by the PM.

The bench comprising Justices Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Azizur Rehman was hearing the petition of 33 FBR officers who were promoted to grade-21 by the department six months ago.

Lala Fazalur Rahman, Shafiq Mehesar, Shahid Baloch and others, represented by Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem, submitted that the summary regarding their promotion to next grade was forwarded to the prime minister for approval, but it had been pending disposal before the PM for the past several months.

They submitted in the petition that they belonged to Sindh and they thought that they were not being promoted due to a biased attitude of the federal government.

The bench gave a last chance to the respondents to file their respective comments, and put off the hearing to a date to be later announced by the court’s office.

Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2014