PESHAWAR: Residents of the Dargai Kharaki locality in Malakand have filed a petition against the provincial government and a steel mill in the area for allegedly causing air pollution and for emitting hazardous pollutants which have been affecting lives of residents.
This was stated in a petition, signed by 26 residents of the area, and filed to the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Friday.
Filing through their lawyers Javed Ali Ghani and Akhunzada Asad Iqbal, the petitioners argued that Dargai Kharaki is a rural area and has not been specified by the government as an industrial or commercial estate. Despite that, a steel mill has been set up in the area which has been polluting the land to the detriment of those living nearby.
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They pointed out that despite previous orders of the court, neither the mill nor the government had bothered to put in place controls to regulate pollutants being emitted by the mill. They urged the court to direct the authorities to impose stringent controls on the mill.
“People are breathing unhealthy air as smog continues to billow from the steel mill,” read the petition submitted to the court.
The petition added that residents of the area had also submitted pleas to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the civil secretariat for the redressal of the issue.
The EPA had issued an order against steel mill under the Environmental Protection Act-2014, but it yielded no change in the behaviour of the mill’s owners.
“There is a pressing need for more proactive measures to combat air pollution. The existing ones are inadequate,” claimed the petitioners.
They further highlighted the bureaucratic apathy of the district administration which had failed to implement past court orders.
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The lawyers said that one of the petitioners, a doctor, had also lodged a complaint with the director of the human rights cell at the PHC noting that pollutants such as air pollution, noise pollution, water pollution with active substances such as Sulphur Oxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Iron Oxides deeply affecting all living creatures in the scenic area.
They pointed out that the Dargai Tehsil assistant commissioner had written to the mill, directing its owner to install filters. Moreover, the assistant commissioner also stopped the mill from working until a quality pollution filtration mechanism is installed at the plant.
Ghani, the lawyer for the petitioners, said that these environmental problems and also been challenged in the court from time to time and the court had issued directives against them. However, he claimed that the government had failed to implement the orders.
He urged the court to direct the Malakand Deputy Commissioner to take adequate steps to stop the mill from polluting the environment.
The court was also asked to issue directions to the chief secretary to set up proper industrial zone for factories in the Malakand division complete with all facilities of eradicating air, water, and noise pollution.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2018.