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LAKKI MARWAT: The residents of Pezu town and adjoining areas have asked the relevant authorities to stop a local cement factory from polluting environment.

The call was given during a public hearing arranged by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environmental Protection Agency on the factory’s premises on Tuesday, where the local government representatives, local elders and politicians, government officials and people from different walks of life were in attendance.

The event was held to review the environmental impact assessment report submitted by the cement factory for seeking the approval to run 7,700 tons per day new line project in Darra Pezu town of Lakki Marwat district.

EPA director general Dr Mohammad Bashir Khan, AC Mohammad Shayan Ali Jawa, former Sindh environment secretary Shamsul Haq Memon, Marwat Ittehad Group chairman Hisham Inamullah Khan and factory’s representatives were also present on the occasion.

Activists of a religious organisation also demonstrated outside the main gate of factory suspending the cement’s supply for some time.

The participants were informed about the cement factory’s contribution in education, health, employment, disaster management, environment and forestry, water supply and sanitation and sports sectors.

The local residents demanded the immediate end to pollution caused by the factory.

Naib nazim of the Mela Shahabkhel union council Iqbal Khan said the pollution caused by factory had destroyed the beauty of Shaikh Badin monotonous resort.

He insisted that factory’s contributions to the district’s development existed on papers only.

Elder from Wanda Jogi area Alamgir Khan alleged that the factory’s management had illegally occupied thousands of acres of land.

He added that the factory was set up on the land owned by the local residents but the latter were denied its class four jobs.

MIG chairman Hisham Inamullah Khan called for steps to control pollution caused by the cement factory and utilisation of major share of its CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds for the people’s welfare in the district.

An official of the Environmental Consulting Company said the factory had been told to replace dust and pollution control system with modern bag filters, prioritise the recruitment of the locals, install water filtration plants and spend huge funds on education and health sectors.

He also asked the factory’s management to set up a complaint cell and appoint women employees.

EPA DG Dr Bashir said the agency would regularly monitor the factory’s efforts to check dust emission and pollution.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017