ISLAMABAD, Jan 5: Federal Minister for Environment Hameedullah Jan Afridi on Monday directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) to ensure installation of ‘pollution mitigating devices’ in steel furnaces located in Islamabad’s I-9 and I-10 sectors to overcome the pollution problem.

The minister was presiding over a meeting on pollution caused by steel furnace industry in the federal capital.

Secretary Environment Khushnood Akhtar Lashari, Additional Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, CDA Chairman Tariq Mehmood, Pak-EPA Director-General Asif Shuja Khan, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Mian Shaukat Masood and representatives of the steel industry, Planning Commission and other stakeholders participated in the meeting.

Mr Afridi said the Ministry of Environment supported industrialisation and economic activity in the country, but at the same time expected the cooperation of the industry in controlling the pollution.

He said the environment ministry was aware of the fact that the steel industry in the private sector was contributing 1.5 million tons of steel against the demand of 2.5 million tons.

Mr Afridi said the option of relocation of furnaces to a suitable place was under consideration, in addition to that of the change of trade for the business community associated with steel furnaces.

The Ministry of Environment has already approved in principle a proposal by the Pak-EPA to relocate the steel industry. There were indications that the same would be shifted to the new industrial area in I-17, where the work is stated to be in advance stage.

According to Mr Afridi, the Pak-EPA will provide necessary training to the labour force of steel furnaces for operating the environment friendly technology.

Speaking on the occasion, CDA Chairman Tariq Mehmood said the authority would provide all-out assistance and cooperation to the environment ministry in its efforts to control the pollution in the federal capital and making Islamabad an ‘environment friendly city’.

ICCI President Mian Shaukat Masood said owners of steel furnaces and the ICCI administration would hold a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to discuss the option of an alternative site for steel furnaces in the provincial territory adjacent to the federal capital. He said the business community would fully cooperate with the ministry in mitigating pollution and would consider the options of change of trade and shifting of steel furnaces outside Islamabad.

Meanwhile, during his visit to Global Change Impact Study Centre in the Quaid-i-Azam University, the environment minister said climate change was not only an environmental issue but also an economic issue, as it was posing a serious threat to agriculture, water resources, energy, livestock and other areas associated with the world economy.

Renowned scientist Dr Ishfaq Ahmed, Environment Secretary Khushnud Akhtar Lashri and Additional Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Elahi were also present on the occasion.

Mr Afridi stressed that there was a need to develop international collaboration for climate change research projects, particularly in developing countries like Pakistan.

He lauded the efforts of Global Change Impact Study Centre (GCISC), which was working under the National Centre for Physics. “The research study and evaluations conducted by the GCISC will be beneficial for the future development strategy of Pakistan,” he said.

Earlier Dr Arshad Khan, the centre’s executive director, gave a detailed presentation on the future climate change threats like recession of glaciers, water and heat stressed changes, climate change effects on water resources, agriculture, livestock and soil degradation.