ISLAMABAD: Ministry of Climate Change has directed Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) to develop a project and modalities for initiating an integrated hospital waste management system for the capital city.

In a letter addressed to Pak-EPA (copy available with Dawn), Secretary Climate Change Ministry Hassan Nasir Jami said proper monitoring of hospitals across the city and rural areas should be carried out.

This step is necessary to ensure they were taking measures regarding hospital waste recycling/management in scientific and environment-friendly way.

In the letter, he also raised questions over Pak-EPA’s non-satisfactory performance, particularly regarding its poor role in controlling air and water pollution, problems which have increased environmental degradation across the city.

The agency was directed to boost efforts to check the worsening problem of overall environmental degradation in the capital city and adjoining areas due to unchecked water, air and hospital waste pollution.

The secretary expressed concerns over the overall environmental pollution particularly due to lack of a proper hospital waste management, rising air and water pollution.

The secretary also directed Pak-EPA to take immediate measures to address environmental challenges facing the residents of the federal capital.

The Pak-EPA director general has been asked to roll out a PC-I document for establishing a reliable air quality monitoring network throughout the federal capital.

The project for air quality monitoring would be a model for other cities/provinces to replicate for fighting the major common environmental challenge of air pollution being faced by the country.

He also noted with concern that water pollution continued to be a major threat to the public health in the federal capital and suburbs like anywhere else in the country. However, surface as well as groundwater resources need to be protected from exposure to pollution in all possible manners, the secretary added.

In view of directions from the federal government and the Prime Minister Office, a mapping study was recently carried out by the ministry to identify the key areas of environment concerns. The PM’s office required urgent action on part of concerned government agencies for the sake of protection of public health and overall environment, the letter said.

The secretary prioritised three key projects - Model Ambient Air Quality Monitoring System, Model Waster Monitoring System and Model Integrated Hospital Waste Management System - for the capital city and adjoining areas.

This is to ensure mitigation of overall challenges to the public health and environment due to the unmanaged hospital waste, increasing surface and ground water contamination as well as air pollution.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2019