RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has framed its own rules and regulations for environment protection after 12 years of devolution of environment department under 18th Amendment.

Before new rules and regulations, the Punjab environment department was working under Pakistan Environment Protection Agency rules and regulation 2002. After 18th Amendment, the environment was devolved to provincial government.

The Punjab EIA Regulations 2022 will replace the Pak-EPA Regulations 2002. Under the new rules, several new projects have been included in Schedule One and Two for which environmental clearance will be mandatory.

The new projects that will be brought into the environmental network include solar energy projects with more than five megawatts, cutlery units, iron and steel re-rolling, rubber industry, battery manufacturing business, flyover, underpass and others.

Approval was also required for the construction of bridges.

According to the federal rules, public hearing for environmental assessment for any project takes place after a period of thirty days of publication of the advertisement. Now under the provincial rules, this period has been reduced to seven days.

According to the official, under the new rules, if the applicant does not submit the required documents even on three 7-day notices, his case will be returned. And, he submitted after six months delay. The fee will also be submitted new.

The permission for IEA (Preliminary Environmental Assessment Report) has been reduced from 45 days to 30 days, while the permission for EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) has been reduced from 90 days to 45 days.

The Advisory Committee has also been rescheduled. The chairman of the committee will be director general Punjab Environment Protection Agency and representatives from the Ministry of Industry, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the concerned district as members. Deputy Director EIA or Assistant Director EIA will be the secretary of the committee.

A senior official of the environment told Dawn that the agency would monitor plant, factory or building construction and inspect it any time after the approval and if the official found, the requirements of EIA is not implemented then approval will be cancelled.

He said that the Punjab EPA would declare any area as environmentally sensitive area after checking and it would ask the district administration to protect it.

When contact, Deputy Director Muhammad Raffique said that the new rules and regulations had been notified and it had been implemented.

He said that the new rules are more and less the same with some changes.

He said that under the new rules, all the development projects were mandatory to get approval of the environment department.

He said that all the underpasses and flyovers will be constructed after approval of the environment department.

He said that there was dire need to make changes in the old rules and make them with regional requirements. He said that earlier, the province adopted the central rules and these were implemented.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2022

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