PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has allocated Rs239 million to address environment-related issues in the province, including Rs70 million to purchase mobile air quality monitoring stations for Peshawar.

Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no air quality monitoring station in the provincial capital.

Officials told Dawn that the Provincial Development Working Party (PDWP) had approved a PC-1 to this effect towards the end of last year.

In addition, the KP EPA and provincial environment department have also proposed several measures to combat high concentration of particulate matter (PM 2.5), which according to a recent report, was all-time high in the provincial capital.

Peshawar to get mobile air quality monitoring stations at cost of Rs70m

A federal EPA report on Peshawar’s air quality prepared earlier this month showed that there was high concentration of PM 2.5 in the provincial capital and situation was worse near the roadsides.

An air monitoring survey conducted by the EPA with the technical assistance of the federal EPA in four areas of the provincial capital found that the level of PM 2.5, which is the inhalable particulate, was all-time high from Hayatabad to the urban area of the city. The highest points according to the survey were Haji Camp Adda vicinity along the roadsides.

Besides, provincial chief secretary Dr Shahzad Khan Bangash also assigned specific tasks to the relevant departments to take appropriate measures to control air pollution in the provincial capital.

Officials said the transport department had been given task to control the emissions from ill-tuned diesel and petrol vehicles.

Transport department should gear up checking of ill-tuned vehicles and those who do not comply with standards should be taken off the road,” said an official document. Besides, the local government department has also been given the task of improving unpaved road shoulders and dust along with the center median of the roads.

The document said the LG department and Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar should pave unpaved sides of the roads. Besides, they should also ensure cleaning of center median of the roads during daily sweeping of the roads and the dust should be lifted immediately.

Both the entities have also been assigned tasks to ensure timely collection of and picking up of solid waste and direct the sweeping staff not to set on fire to the solid waste.

On the other hand, traffic police has been assigned task to ensure that no material is transported without proper coverage with tarpaulin sheet.

In addition to this, district administration were also directed to impose Section 144 on opening burning of solid waste, and rubber and Rexine burning in brick kilns. Also, new NOC won’t be issued for brick kilns that are operating on conventional type and all brick kilns need to be converted to zigzag type.

On the other, the EPA has made its own recommendations to improve air quality in the provincial capital as well to bring down the number of the particulate matter. During survey roadside restaurants having open-air traditional barbeques were found main polluters.

The report said BBQs caused two types of pollutants.

“Microscopic specks of grease, when meat is sizzling, escape into the air and add to dangerous particle pollution and coal being burnt adds to carbon emissions,” it said.

The study proposed a pilot project to provide electric grills powered by renewable energy as well as better BBQ stand designs along with pushing them back from the roadside. Hundreds of small and big restaurants have installed open-air traditional BBQs across the city to entertain consumers.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2022

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