PESHAWAR: The environment, forestry and wildlife department came under fire in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday over failure to control hazardous emissions and unsafe disposal of chemical waste by factories and brick kilns, which, the opposition says, is harming environment and spreading serious diseases.
The opposition members criticised the department during the question hour of the session chaired by Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan.
The chair referred several questions about the issue to the relevant standing committee of the house over the department’s failure to respond to them.
The discussion on industrial pollution began on the question of JUI-F member Naeema Kishwar, who had sought details from the environment department of efforts for the control of environmental pollution.
Ms Kishwar complained that Pakistan was not invited to the Climate Leaders’ Summit hosted by the United States lately because the federal government hadn’t made efforts to stop the growing environmental pollution.
MPA complains cancer spreading in Karak due to uranium mining
She said the environment department had failed to ensure that the relevant law is followed by the industries established in the Hayatabad Industrial Estate, Peshawar, as the chimneys of those units emitted gases harmful to people’s life.
The opposition lawmaker said those factories had also polluted the environment of the provincial capital.
In a supplementary question, JUI-F MPA Zafar Azam Khan said cancer was spreading in his constituency in Karak district due to uranium mining but the environment department and relevant companies were not taking steps to stop it.
He also said there were also a lot of coalmines, whose digging continued throughout the year without proper protocol and thus, causing the spread of respiratory diseases.
Mr Azam said it was the responsibility of the environment department to ensure mineral mining doesn’t harm the health and life of the residents.
MPA Mian Nisar Gul from Karak said environmental conditions in Karak had worsened due to the exploration of oil and gas.
He said hazardous effluents from oil rigs and gas exploration activities were discarded into watercourses and drains, which had polluted the scarce water resources.
The lawmaker demanded of the government to focus more on environment saying life without clear environment is impossible.
The chair referred the question to the relevant standing committee for a detailed discussion.
MPA Mir Kalam Khan from North Waziristan tribal district expressed concern about the incomplete reply of the environment department regarding the appointment of 15 people in South Waziristan tribal district.
He said he had sought the details of the applications of candidates, their identity cards, domiciles, academic credentials and appointment orders but the department hadn’t provided those details to the house.
As the mover insisted, the chair referred the question to the relevant standing committee of the house for consideration.
Responding to the criticism of lawmakers, labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai said the spread of cancer due touranium explorationwas a serious issue and requested the chair to set up a house committee to probe the matter.
He said the government was taking serious measures to tackle environmental challenges and launched the Billion Tree forestation project for the purpose.
The minister, however, said it was the responsibility of every individual to play due role for making the country green and clean.
He also said there was a complete ban on the use and business of polythene shopping bags and the authorities concerned had been directed to enforce it.
The chair adjourned the session until Monday.
Published in Dawn, April 17th, 2021