There is a dire need for identifying and cleaning the “chemically polluted” cities in the country as they pose a serious threat to the public health.
This was stated by environment protection experts on Wednesday. They were speaking at a two-day workshop which has been organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Blacksmith Institute, USA and Khyber-Pakthunkhwa Environment Protection Agency (EPA-KP).
Local and international experts and representatives of national and provincial Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) resolved to accelerate the process of site identification and risk assessment for contaminated areas.
Development of a national inventory project for contaminated sites, along with spearheading technical and financial support were discussed.
The Blacksmith Institute and SDPI have been working jointly since 2009 to compile and assess contaminated sites in Pakistan.
The training was imparted by Blackmith Institute Project Manager Bret Ericson and SDPI Chemicals and Sustainable Industrial Development Senior Advisor Dr Mahmood Khwaja.
The workshop was supported in part by the Asian Development Bank through Regional Technical Assistance. Khwaja recommended strict enforcement of pollution charges and waste water discharge licensing system along with other measures. He said that out of 6,634 registered industries, around 1,228 are considered highly polluting.
“The textiles, leather, food, ceramics, steel, oil refineries, pharmaceutical and chemical industries in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Multan and Hyderabad need immediate attention,” he said.
He additionally called for strict regulations for pollution control, environment protection and sound management of chemicals. Khwaja was of the view that civilians can play a positive role by building awareness about the subject.
Former director general EPA Islamabad Asif Shuja Khan stressed the need for further work on managing hazardous wastes.
He criticised the industrial sector and said that “it is the time for corporate responsibility”.
Director General EPA KP Dr Bashir Ahmed added that contaminated sites should be investigated and cleaned up in K-P, since they pose a serious threat to public health. He expressed the hope for international support in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2011.
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