Only 10 per cent of the industries in Karachi follow environmental standards while just three per cent in Pakistan meet international waste treatment protocols.
These figures were shared by environment experts and industrialists at a seminar on “Awareness of Environmental Laws and Legislation” organised on Friday by the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
In view of the Baldia factory blaze that exposed the inadequate safety measures prevalent, the statistics certainly add to the dire need for regulation in the country’s industrial areas.
The discussion aimed to raise awareness about environmental protection and the importance of environmental laws and regulation to experienced industrialists, said the chairman of the FPCCI Standing Committee on Environment, Gulzar Firoz, in his opening remarks. The seminar started off with prayers for the victims of the garment factory fire.
Only one effluent treatment plant exists in Korangi to treat industrial waste while four others that were supposed to be set up in the industrial areas of Karachi have not even been initiated, said Firoz.
Industrialists should monitor their plants for emissions on a monthly basis, stated Ibadur Rehman, the deputy director of the Cleaner Production Institute in his presentation on environmental legislation in Pakistan.
“If you make an environmental management plan now, gradually you will be able to meet the National Environmental Quality Standards,” said Rehman. The law, which came into force in 1993, regulates air emissions and effluent in industry.
The Environmental Protection Agency should include the concept of cleaner production and energy efficiency, Rehman said while describing how to make an environmental report of a factory.
Highlighting the importance of a combined effluent treatment plant, he said that this kind of plant will become the biggest industry in Pakistan in the coming days.
With a population of 180 million, which is expected to double in the next 20 years, the country’s GDP has to increase by seven per cent every year to meet its requirements, said the CEO of International Textiles, Aamir Niazi, in his presentation on Corporate Social and Environment Responsibility (CSER).
“We have to confess that the law implementation level is low and the fire at Baldia factory is its latest example,” said Mir Hussain Ali, the environment secretary.
Before 2000, industries were regularly inspected by government inspectors, but then some industrialists started pressuring the government to stop. Ultimately, the inspections at factories were stopped. Two years ago, the Supreme Court directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor industrial units after which regular inspection was started. Then again factory owners pressured the government into stopping it. Ali requested the industrialists to cooperate and let the government do its job. After the 18th amendment and the devolution of EPA, the provincial government has started preparing environmental laws.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2012.