ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has once again taken up a project to protect human health and environment by monitoring air, water and land pollution. They intend to do this by reinitiating abatement activities which were discontinued after former director general Dr Khursheed Khan left the country in June 2015.
After emerging from its dormant state, the Pak-EPA has recently issued three fresh environmental protection orders (EPOs) in addition to notices to potential violators of environmental regulations in the limits of Islamabad. The parties that were issued EPOs include Lawari Filling Station and Fortune Lakeview Residency, near Bani Gala, and Al Ghurair Giga in Defence Housing Authority Phase II.
“Pak-EPA has issued strict guidelines in order to stop pollution, and in case of noncompliance, legal action is initiated against violators including confiscation of machinery and shutting down the unit,” an official at Pak-EPA told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.
However, he said that the polluting party has the right to submit an explanation against the issued EPO within 30 days. The Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) has also delegated an additional charge on EPA Director-General Irfan Tariq of running its daily affairs at a time when the agency’s enforcement and compliance assurance wings are non-functional. Further, he is also charged with monitoring EPA’s environmental laboratory.
“The recent abatement activities were taken by Pak-EPA on pursuance and directions of Tariq to address the environment issue in the capital by taking Zahid Hamid, the minister climate change, and Secretary Climate Change Arif Ahmed Khan on board,” a Pak-EPA official said.
He further shared that Tariq had a meeting with two of the directors, namely Ziaul Islam and Ziaudin Khattak, and an assistant director, Rashid Cheema, on Friday. Tariq is said to have instructed them to immediately develop a policy to control emissions from motor vehicles, and develop a framework for pollution caused by plastic bags. In addition, he instructed them to submit a strategy on how the EPA laboratory can be made functional within the next few days.
In case of failure in fulfilling Pak-EPA’s orders, the environmental watchdog can file a case in the environmental tribunal under Section 17 of Environmental Act, 1997, and a fine of up to Rs1 million can be imposed in addition to confiscating and sealing violating properties.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2016.