Industries unwilling to set up treatment plants

SEPA, industrialists fight over construction responsibility; federal, Sindh govts shift the blame


SHEHARYAR ALI March 03, 2017
WSSP will provide data to UEP, UET to help students in their research and analysis. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Amid a dispute between industrialists and the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) over the construction of effluent treatment plants, the losers are the citizens and the environment.

Industrialists in Karachi have threatened to shut down their industries in the city and eventually move them abroad if Sepa does not stop the action against them.

In the last month-and-a-half, the environmental watchdog shut down 30 industries and issued notices to 300 others for lack of treatment plants and releasing untreated effluent and wastewater directly into the Lyari River.

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According to Jawed Bilwani, spokesperson of the All Karachi Industries Association, industrialists are ready to cooperate with the government but believe the treatment meted out to them is very harsh.

Responding to a question about installing effluent treatment plants at each factory, Bilwani told The Express Tribune that the Sindh government had already announced construction of four Combined Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) in SITE, Korangi, North Karachi and the Super Highway. He said the PC-1 was prepared at the start of 2016 at a cost of Rs11 billion.

However, if industrialists install effluent treatment plant themselves, which are costly and require a lot of space, and later the government also installs their announced CETPs then our investment will go to waste, he said.

Bilwani said it is better for the government to install these plants on their own or at least inform industrialists whether or not they plan to do it. These laws are new, while our industries are older than the creation of Pakistan therefore it will take time for us to adjust with new law, he added.

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Sepa’s action against industries has been spurred by the Supreme Court.

According to National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) president Muhammad Naeem Qureshi, the citizens are suffering due to the negligence of both industrialists and the Sindh government.

He added that this is the time for the government to draw a line and announce the construction of their own treatment plant or else bind industrialists to install their own.

What Sepa is doing is just saving itself from the Supreme Court so that during the course of the hearing it will be able to show its performance, he claimed. They should focus on long-term planning but that is never their priority, lamented Qureshi.

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Fifty million gallons of sewerage is being dumped into the sea daily and we have turned this blue water black, he said, adding that the dark grey sand of Clifton beach is an example of this.

He pointed out the dearth of marine life within a 20 nautical mile radius of the beach, adding that this is affecting the seafood business and the ecosystem. It could reach a 50 nautical mile radius if we continue to ignore it, he warned.

SEPA version

Sepa’s director-general said that they are taking action against the industries who continue to spread pollution in the city. He added that a few industrialists are ready to install effluent treatment plants but those who are not willing have to come under the law.

He added whatever action Sepa has taken is according to the powers conferred to it under Section 21 of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014.

Talking about the CETPs, he said the government will work on its end but there is a major responsibility on the industrialists as well. He said the CETP construction is in process.

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Rift between two governments

According to Karachi Water and Sewerage Board official Saleem Siddiqui, who, along with ministry of industries developed the PC-1 of the proposed CETPs, the Sindh government is very keen to take up the project but there are some delays from the federal government.

On the other hand, industries secretary Abdul Raheem Soomro said the project is supposed to be initiated on a 50/50 basis as its cost is going to be shared by Sindh and federal governments.

He added that the project is supposed to be completed in three years but judging by the federal government’s attitude, they are unconcerned about a city that earns them trillions annually.

He said the project file was forwarded five months ago and has been lying with climate change secretary Abu Akif, who is supposed to forward it to the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) which comes under the federal ministry of planning, development and reform.

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COMMENTS (1)

Sasha Riaz | 4 years ago | Reply It seems that the industrialists are only interested in fat profits and are arrogantly refusing to take responsibility for the toxic waste that their factories produce and dump into the environment. The pollution causes serious damage to the environment. Whose responsibility is it to prevent that?? It is goverment’s responsibility to ensure that the industrialists are not allowed to get away with the crime of pollution and not give intout their threats? Where will they move their business to?It will cost them to do so ,why not spend that money on full -filling their responsibilities not to pollute and build the effluent treatment plants which they have severely neglected to do so far? THEY MUST BE PENALISED. Mr Bilwani may complain about harsh treatment but unless strict action is not taken rich and powerful industrialists will continue to ignore their obligations to protect the environment and it's people which they have been doing for far too long.
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