ISLAMABAD: In what could be a win for the environment of the capital, the apex court on Tuesday directed to shut industries in Sectors I-9 and I-10 of the city.
This was directed as a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, heard a case pertaining to environmental pollution in the federal capital.
“Those industries closed on charges of environmental pollution will not be de-sealed [reopened] without permission from the Supreme Court,” the CJ ordered.
The apex court also directed Advocate General, advocating for the Islamabad Police, to assist the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) official and submit a written reply within two weeks.
As the court took up the matter on Tuesday, Pak-EPA Director General Farzana Altaf Shah told the court that her agency was taking all possible steps to protect and conserve the environment in the industrial areas of sectors I-9 and I-10.
Shah, though, complained that Pak-EPA did not get the assistance it expected from the police department when it launched an operation against polluters.
In this regard, she pointed out that in April, the authority had issued environment protection orders (EPO) to two steel mills in the capital for polluting the air with dangerous emissions and for causing significant pollution.
The mills were subsequently shut down by an Environmental Tribunal on the orders of the Supreme Court. However, the owners of both the mills allegedly broke the seals on the gates and restarted their smelters without seeking prior approval from the Pak-EPA.
At this, Justice Nisar ordered that no mill can be de-sealed without seeking prior permission from the Supreme Court.
Earlier, the Pak-EPA submitted a report to the apex court detailing the actions it has against steel factories since 2010.
The report details that in 2016, the Pak-EPA had arranged a meeting of all stakeholders — including steel mill owners — in which they had decided that the Pak-EPA monitoring team would conduct surprise visits time and again to ascertain the emission situation at factories.
It was further agreed that no additional relaxation of time would be provided to any steel units, either of the re-rolling or the steel furnace variety, to operate without installing proper control for air pollution. Moreover, it was decided that no steel unit shall operate without first installing some form of pollution-control technology after July 1, 2016.
At the moment, the capital’s industrial zone has a number of factories including eight steel melting furnaces, 11 steel re-rolling mills, 25 flour mills, five oil and ghee mills, more than 30 marble cutting and polishing units, over 10 pharmaceutical units, two galvanising units and two metal works.
Marriage halls to pay charges
Separately, the top court on Tuesday directed owners of marriage halls in the federal capital to pay regularisation charges and secure no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the Capital Development Authority (CDA).
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, issued the directives while hearing a case on illegal marriage halls in the city.
At the last hearing of the case against illegal marriage halls, owners of the halls had expressed their willingness to pay regularisation charges to secure a legal status for their halls. During the course of proceedings, the chief justice observed that the court will not allow any illegal construction in the federal capital.
Chief Justice Nisar further observed that the CDA had failed to take any action against the construction of illegal wedding halls in the city.
Disposing of the case, the court, however, made it clear that regularisation of wedding halls should not disturb the capital’s environment.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2018.