PESHAWAR: Keeping in view the rising level of pollution in the canals passing through the provincial metropolis, a Peshawar High Court bench ordered the constitution of a commission to check pollution and sought recommendations in this regard.
On Thursday, the order was issued by a division bench comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth on a petition filed by Shoaib Jally. He said five canals flow through Peshawar and due to the lax attitude of the departments concerned, the canals have become filthy. According to the petitioner, people have been using the canals as dumping grounds. He added that they start out clean, but after entering the city, start getting polluted as residents drain their gutters into them.
On this occasion, Environmental Protection Agency Director General Dr Muhammad Bashir Khan informed the bench six sites have been selected from which the local government department will choose one. The site will then be acquired and become the only place where the city’s waste can be dumped.
Representatives of the local government failed to appear and submit their replies. They were ordered to submit the same in the previous hearing on June 13. The additional advocate general requested the bench to grant him more time to procure the replies. The bench directed him to submit these statements before the next hearing on September 8.
The petitioner argued that departments concerned are aware of the threat and have a non-serious attitude towards finding a solution. Arguing about environmental pollution in Peshawar, he said that billions of rupees have been spent by the federal and provincial governments to set up bodies to contain pollution.
He stated health experts were concerned that the rising pollution has been causing serious ailments, including cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.
A representative of the irrigation department also appeared before the court and said notices were issued to residents who were dumping waste in the canals in 2013. He said a law and order situation was created at the time when people came out with sticks at the launch of an operation to stop the dumping of waste into canals.
Justice Afridi said it was still the department’s duty to keep the canals clean.
Burning of waste
During the course of proceedings, EPA DG directed the bench’s attention towards the burning of solid waste in various localities in Cantonment Board Peshawar and Peshawar Development Authority jurisdictions.
He pointed out it was a serious environmental hazard and the practice needed to be stopped immediately. The PDA counsel, present on the occasion, assured the bench he would raise the issue with the officer concerned. The judge ruled that court orders against burning of waste on streets and roads be conveyed to the officials or implementation.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2016.
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