LAHORE: Punjab Environment Secretary Dr Zafar Nasrullah Khan has issued instructions to all field formations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for taking preemptive measures to control smog and air pollution in the province during the winter.

Nasimur Rehman Shah, a senior officer of the EPD, told Dawn the owners of all furnaces and steel mills had been asked to install proper emission control system (dry scrubbers etc) in their units immediately; otherwise, strict legal action would be taken against them under the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997 (Amended 2012), and their units would be stopped under Section 16 of the Environmental Act.

“Installation of very effective emission control systems is being carried out in 15 industries of district Sheikhupura. Similar systems will be installed in the industries of Lahore and other districts of the province. The EPA deputy director has issued notices to 29 furnaces and other steel mills of Lahore. Dry scrubbers in a number of industries are being installed,” Mr Shah said.

Dr Zafar has instructed field officers to visit all such industries immediately and obtain undertakings from the owners for installation of proper emission control equipment prior to start of smog season. The environment secretary also convened a meeting with Lahore commissioner during the last week in the presence of all deputy commissioners. Instructions were passed to constitute committees at district level to monitor smog campaign.

“A meeting has been held with the All Pakistan Brick Kiln Owners Association in which it was decided that all existing old technology brick kilns would be converted into Zig Zag Firing Technology Brick Kilns. The association has already started construction of 20 Zig Zag Brick Kilns in district Kasur, Nankana Sahib, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Rawalpindi and other districts,” said Mr Nasim.

He added that instructions had been issued to all field officers to stop construction of old technology brick kilns in the province. Experts from Nepal had been invited to train the owners of brick kilns for construction of new technology brick kilns and to convert existing brick kilns to the new technology.

“Only Zig Zag Technology Brick Kilns would be allowed to continue their operations in November and December. All other old technology brick kilns will stop their operations from Oct 20 to Dec 31 this year.”

Mr Nasimur Rehman Shah further said the secretary Environment had also issued instructions to the officers concerned for extensive tree plantation.

He said the EPA officers had been directed to take immediate action under the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997 against all such industries and brick kilns as were using substandard fuel.

“The traffic police and Transport Department have been asked for control of traffic congestion and vehicular pollution while the Local Government Department has been requested to improve solid waste management practices and imposition of complete ban on burning of solid waste. The agriculture department has also been requested to take measures to control stubble burning this year,” according to the EPD officer.

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2018