HYDERABAD: Industrialists and members of the business community have decried action of the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), accusing the environmental regulator of closing factories and creating redundancy. The agency closed down 15 industries last week due to their allegedly persistent non-compliance with the rules.
“We have not been given adequate time to adopt and apply the environment friendly [industrial] practices as written in the new law which was passed in 2014 [Sindh Environment Protection Act, 2014],” claimed Salahuddin Qureshi, vice-chairperson of the SITE Association Hyderabad, during a press conference on Saturday. “The government is also not fulfilling its promise of building a combined effluent treatment plant for Hyderabad like the one in Kotri.”
He was accompanied by representatives of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI) and Hyderabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industry (HCSTSI) besides the SITE Association. The businesspersons claimed that the labourers of the 15 closed industries have become redundant while business is also suffering.
Since February, 2015, when former environment minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro met representatives of the SITE Association and HCCI, Sepa has been asking the industrialists to install in-house effluent treatment systems to check pollution. At the meeting two years ago, the minister apprised the industrialists about the act and the penalty of Rs5 million for offenders.
Factories in Hyderabad SITE contribute to air pollution and also discharge untreated toxic effluent into the Phuleli Canal, which is a drinking water and irrigation source for three districts.
In the subsequent meetings with Sepa officials and the district administration, the SITE association reportedly assured of compliance with the law. Sepa’s regional director Munir Ahmed Abbassi claims that so far almost all of the 312 SITE factories have failed to install treatment plants.
However, Qureshi contended that only around 30 factories are violating environmental regulations. He put the number of operational industries at about 200, disputing Sepa’s figure of more than 300.
“It is not possible for all the factories to build a treatment plant inside each unit. Eight years ago the government approved a plan for constructing a treatment plant similar to Kotri, we want implementation on that project as well,” demanded Qureshi.
The business community demanded a committee comprising officials of Sepa, SITE and the district administration as well as the SITE association should be formed. The committee will identify the industries which require installation of treatment plants and will also point out violators.
They complained that while the government is demanding compliance from the industrialists, Hyderabad SITE’s infrastructure remains in a bad shape. The roads are broken and water supply and drainage have become nagging troubles.
Hyderabad Site Association of Trade and Industry’s patron Mazharul Haque, HCSTSI’s chairperson Nadeem Siddiqui and HCCI’s Ziauddin Ahmed addressed the press conference along with Qureshi.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2017.
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