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Pak-Epa achieves a breakthrough

January 09, 2012

Shutting down illegal quarrying in the tail end of the Margalla Hills still remains one of the biggest challenges for the government. - File photo

ISLAMABAD: The initiative launched by Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-Epa) for greening the steel industry has made some progress as one of the eight steel mills in the capital installed equipment to control emissions of pollutants.

“The bag-house filter is a proven technology worldwide to control 99 per cent emissions of dangerous pollutants from chimneys,” said Director General Pak-Epa Asif Shuja who had given four months to the owners of steel mills in the capital industrial sectors to install the environment-friendly equipment.

After a lot of pushing by the government, Pak-Epa and the owners of the steel mills signed a resolution supporting the agency to make Islamabad pollution-free in general and the industrial area in particular.

The resolution signed by all the parties in July bound the owners to make all-out efforts, including upgradation of anti-pollution equipment, and further bring down emissions from their units within four months to the levels prescribed in the National Environment Quality Standards (NEQS) established by the government.

“The equipment seems working perfectly. There are no visible dust clouds and black smoke is also under control,” said one of the inspectors from Pak-Epa observing the operation of the new gadget installed at Karachi Steel Mills in I-9 Industrial Area.

However, the system would require monitoring and Pak-Epa still has to check gaseous emissions once the tests were sent to the lab, the official explained.

The new equipment would allow recording emission levels regularly through online monitors already installed at the steel units.

The Pak-Epa chief said his plan of greening the industry-2016 was aimed at reining in all the steel mills in sectors I-9, I-10, Kahuta Triangle and he wanted to bring illegal stone crushers in Sangjani and other areas under the ambit of his plan.

He said the owners of still mills were still reluctant to install the new technology because of the cost that touched Rs7 million to Rs8 million.

“There are no options or short cuts. It is imperative that all the steel mills should install new technology to make the air we breathe safe,” he added.

Shutting down illegal quarrying in the tail end of the Margalla Hills still remains one of the biggest challenges for the government.

“The idea is to introduce crop-slicing and benching practice for rehabilitation of the Margalla Hills that has been exhausted by the illegal quarrying,” said Asif Shuja.

Pak-Epa had also suggested regenerating the quarried and disfigured hills and transforming them into public resorts.

“The idea is to encourage sustainable development. There are plenty of holes that can be converted into ponds and lakes and the greenery can be improved around it for the people to appreciate the environment,” he explained.— Jamal Shahid