POLICE along with EPA officials visit the cement factory to seal it off on Tuesday.—Dawn
POLICE along with EPA officials visit the cement factory to seal it off on Tuesday.—Dawn

HYDERABAD/KARA­CHI: The Environ­mental Protection Agency (EPA) got a cement production unit shut down on Tuesday in Nooriabad for repeated violations of environmental laws and an undertaking given by the management of the factory while over 200 other factories in Hyderabad district were sent warning notices for releasing hazardous discharge.

The action was under taken after the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) on Monday issued an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) under the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014, invoked to take action against discharging of effluent/waste or emissions of air pollutants causing adverse environmental effects.

The unit’s cement processing plant — Power Cement — had been shut for not complying with health and environmental safeguards even after submitting an undertaking to Sepa, director general of Sepa Naeem Mughal said.

He added that the unit was using coal and even old shoes as fuel which was hazardous for the environment and had affected vegetation in the surroundings.

He explained that particulate matter (PM) in emission had exceeded the permissible limit of PM2.5.

He said that the management had previously been warned and then it had submitted an undertaking to abide by the EPA provisions, but it failed to do so.

He further added that emission was affecting population in the surroundings of the factory and that it was using coal as fuel for which no permission had been sought from Sepa.

He said that factory had been practically shut down on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the director general of Sepa in a meeting warned industrialists of Kotri and the Pakistan Tanners Association (PAT) of action against factories releasing harmful pollutants in the environment, according to a Sepa statement issued on Tuesday.

“The DG Mughal told industrialists in clear words that indiscriminate action would be taken against units polluting the environment. Factories and industrial units creating pollutants are also responsible for their proper disposal,” the statement says, adding that factory owners were asked to submit their complaints directly to the director general, if any Sepa official asked them for favour.

It added that the EPA reached the conclusion that it must not get involved in the debate over combined and individual waste treatment plants initiated by industrialists and should only focus on making water bodies safe by implementing the law.

“Concern, however, was raised during the meeting by the PAT chairman that Sepa’s intended action could result in the closure of industrial units because factories do not have the space to set up individual waste treatment plants while the matter of combined waste water treatment plant has been in the doldrums for a long time,” it said.

It was decided in the meeting that action against units creating marine pollution would continue and a meeting comprising officials of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, the department of solid waste management and the district municipal corporation would also be called to address the issue of land-based pollution.

A list of credible companies offering services for proper disposal of harmful solid pollutants would be provided to industrialists, it added.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2015

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