Losar landfill site notification challenged

Tribunal directs petitioners to file appeal with EPD director general

Qaiser Shirazi November 01, 2023


The Rawalpindi Commissioner’s notification to make Losar – a suburb of Rawalpindi district – a dumping ground for the garbage of both the districts of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, has been challenged before the director general of the Punjab Environment Protection Department (EPD).

On the instructions of the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench, the public hearing committee of the EPD and the Rawalpindi administration had approved the initiative to acquire 1,200 kanals of land to establish a new garbage dumping ground for the entire federal capital in the Rawalpindi district, rejecting all the objections of the local population.

The Rawalpindi district’s garbage dumping ground in the Losar area is situated at an area of ​​1,200 kanals and the waste from the entire district has been dumped in this area for the past one and a half decades.

The locals were already protesting against this dumping ground but all of a sudden at the beginning of the current year, the garbage from Islamabad also started to be dumped in the same dumping ground and more area is being acquired for it by applying section four of the relevant Act.

The locals, Brick Kiln Union and lawyers had challenged the move in the EPD’s Environmental Tribunal. As many as 15 citizens and lawyers, including Fayyaz Shah, challenged the initiative by filing petitions and adopted the stance that the local population consisting of 200,000 citizens was fed up with the dumping ground in Rawalpindi and was running a protest movement for its removal.

“Islamabad is a separate federal district and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has its own vast land. The notification in this regard should be annulled,” they said.

When the hearing started Tuesday, the EPD adopted the stance that the petitioners could not directly approach the Environmental Tribunal. “There is a court of the director general of the EPD. They can first file an application with the DG,” it argued.

The Environmental Tribunal found this position to be correct and ordered all the petitioners to first appeal to the EPD director general, who was directed to take an appropriate decision on merit after hearing the pleas of the petitioners and if the petitioners were still not satisfied with the decision, they could approach the tribunal.

On the other hand, the Islamabad administration has started dumping garbage in the Loser area. Every day, CDA vehicles dump garbage at the Losar dumping site.

Citizens Fayyaz Shah and Raheel Chaudhary told The Express Tribune that due to the garbage dumping for the past 15 years, the underground water has become polluted and is not fit for drinking.

“Hepatitis, jaundice, dengue, skin and eye diseases have spread throughout the area,” they said and added that the dumping of the capital’s waste will further exacerbate ailments and put the locals at higher risk of catching diseases.

The waste dumped in the area to the tune of thousands of tonnes daily has turned the groundwater poisonous, they continued. “The wells in the households are emitting foul-smelling, filthy water,” they said.


Published in The Express Tribune, November 1st, 2023.


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