DERA GHAZI KHAN: Concerned by the impact of stone crushing plants on human health and the environment, the district administration of Dera Ghazi Khan has initiated action against the owners of these factories.
The deputy commissioner has directed the anti-corruption department to register cases and take immediate action against 109 plant owners for not adopting safety measures, ultimately throwing thousands of people in the grip of lung diseases and various other infections.
The anti-corruption department also issued notices to the district officers at the stone crushing plants, the labour department and the environment and minerals department.
Citizens and labourers living and working around these plants are suffering from lung problems and other diseases due to the fine dust that is produced as a consequence of crushing stone. During the last year, at least 64 people died in Chak Nangar while 146 suffered from various illnesses blamed on the plants.
Similarly, in Gabarwah area of Taunsa, people are also suffering from breathing disorders. While the stone crushing plants in Sakhi Sarwar and adjacent areas are not fatal to humans, they have become a leading cause of diseases and illnesses.
The additional deputy commissioner conducted three inquiries into the matter, for which the concerned departments were also summoned.
When contacted, Circle Officer Muhammad Arshad Khan Rind told The Express Tribune that more than 100 plant owners, including Najaf Mushtaq, Anwar, Zafar, Yousuf, Irshad Ahmed, Haji Afzal, Kamal Laddi, Allah Bakhsh, Dr Khadim and five government officers have been served notices. Up until now, seven stone crushing plant owners have submitted their statements, he added. He said that after completing the paper work, strict action will be taken against those involved.
Meanwhile, the deputy commissioner asked officials from the welfare department and the environment and minerals department to give a clarification on the matter. However, the officials failed to provide any such clarification.
In view of the situation, the deputy commissioner issued notices to the government employees and 109 stone crushing plant owners and directed the anti-corruption department to take strict action against them.
Earlier, workers of the stone crushing industry in Sargodha voiced concerns over the lack of safety measures in factories, claiming labourers were compelled to work under dangerous conditions without proper safety against the emission of silica dust.
A number of labourers working in the field expressed reservations over the industry owners’ failure to provide safety gear.
They also demanded authorities implement safety standards and urged the government to keep a check on the stone crushing industry owners.
In July 2014, more than a dozen labourers died after being afflicted with ailments caused by silica dust emissions in Gujranwala.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2018.