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KARACHI: The Supreme Court-mandated commission on water and sanitation in Sindh deplored on Wednesday that the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) had no documented record of the industries before the intervention of the commission.

It further said that Sepa required human resources and capacity-building measures, but the relevant forum had never shown concerns on these issues which in turn had aggravated the common man’s agonies.

The commission, headed by retired Justice Amir Hani Muslim, came down hard on former director general of Sepa Naeem Mughal, serving as additional director general of Sepa, for submitting an incomplete report about the factories and steps taken by industrial units to treat industrial waste.

The commission said that the former DG had filed a list on its directive issued previously, but it did not carry the details about which factory had installed treatment plants, septic tanks or other environment-friendly equipment during his tenure as director general.

Tells SBCA chief to issue show-cause notices to officers over unauthorised constructions

It further said that it was the most unfortunate aspect of Sepa’s performance that it had no documentary record of industries and after the commission’s intervention only they had started documenting them.

However, the commission said that it was refraining from commenting further on the working of Sepa as it also required human resources and capacity building.

SBCA chief ordered to take action

The Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) director general assured the commission that he would invoke provisions of the Sindh Building Control Ordinance to take action against persons involved in raising constructions without an approved plan.

However, the commission told the SBCA chief to issue show-cause notices to the officers concerned explaining why they permitted unauthorised constructions and did not take action against them.

Earlier, the commission had sought an explanation from the DG over on illegal constructions and frequent transfers of the officers facing complaints. It observed that this was done in order to shift the responsibility and to save the delinquents.

The commission also came down hard on the regional director of the SBCA Hyderabad over conversion of a residential plot into a commercial one in Latifabad and said all the construction approved by him would be stayed forthwith. The matter was fixed for Nov 9 at Hyderabad and it directed the mayor, municipal commissioner, director general of the Hyderabad Development Authority and others to be in attendance.

Meanwhile, the commission issued a show-cause notice to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation director for land over his absence and not filing his response on an issue regarding the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

No commercial activity on industrial plot

The commission expressed serious resentment over the use of an industrial plot for commercial activities by a textile mill in Hyderabad and said that a hotel would not be allowed to operate on the premises.

A Fateh Textile Mill director appeared before the commission and contented that the hotel had been closed for a couple of days, but failed to offer any explanation that why the portion of industrial plot had been turned into commercial premises.

The commission said it was very strange that the owner had obstructed the official from discharge of his duty when a SITE official said that he was not allowed to have access to the hotel or the factory. It warned the factory director of legal action if the official was obstructed in future and granted two-day time with the direction that the hotel must not operate on the plot in question.

Cattle Colony in Shikarpur

The commission directed the local government secretary to ensure that the livestock department must start work on the proposal cattle colony in Shikarpur without further delay.

Justice Muslim expressed displeasure over the undue delay and observed that since the possession of the land had been handed over by the municipality to the livestock department, there was no justification for a council resolution as suggested by the livestock secretary.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018