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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday sought a reply from the Punjab Environment Protection Agency (EPA) on a petition challenging closure of brick kilns owing to prevailing spell of smog.

Several owners of the brick kilns pleaded in the petition that the EPA decision for the closure of kilns had badly damaged their lawful business and also snatched livelihood from their poor workers.

The counsel for the petitioners argued that the closure of brick kilns was in sheer violation of the Constitution, which guaranteed the right to do lawful business. He stated the agency randomly shut down brick kilns of the petitioners on the pretext of causing smog. He said no survey had been carried out before shutting down the kilns.

He asked the court to strike down the decision of the EPA and allow the petitioners to resume working of their kilns in order to protect their fundamental rights.

Justice Muzammil Akhtar Shabbir asked the counsel whether the petitioners were ready to submit an undertaking that their kilns did not cause air pollution or smog. The judge observed that the same Constitution that guaranteed the rights of the petitioners to do lawful business also protected the rights of citizens to have a quality life, which could not be usurped.

The judge adjourned further hearing for a week and directed the EPA to file a written reply to the petition.

Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2018