The Lahore High Court green bench has directed the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to submit a list of polluting industries identifying their owners so that they can be issued notices if required.
The bench comprising Justice Mansoor Ali Shah issued the order on Friday during the hearing of a petition against disposal of waste water into the Ravi River. The hearing was later adjourned till May 18.
The bench directed the EPA director (enforcement), who appeared before the court on Friday, to submit the polluters’ list by the next hearing.
He also directed the petitioner’s counsel, Ahmad Rafay Alam, to approach the nine court-appointed experts to deliberate over the constitution of a commission to ascertain the facts of the issue.
Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) director (waste water treatment) also appeared before the court and submitted his report regarding the treatment of waste water. He said two of the Wasa projects in this regard were operational, one at Mahmood Booti near Ring Road and the other at Babu Sabu.
The petition was filed by the Pakistan Environmental Law Association and the Lahore Conservation Society. They said that the River Ravi was the most polluted of the five eastern tributaries of the Indus River.
They said that major wastewater disposal sites into the Ravi were located between Ravi Syphon and the Balloki Headworks. They said wastewater was disposed into the Ravi at several points in this stretch including through Shadbagh, Shahdara, Main Outfall Road, Babu Sabu (Gulshan-i-Ravi) and Multan Road pumping stations and Deg and Hadyara drains.
They also said that in 2002, sewer water was discharged into the Ravi at 12.74 cubic metres per second and by 2017, with population and industrial activity increasing in Lahore, the sewerage level could get as high as 35 cubic metre per second.
Quoting from a Mehran University Research Journal of Engineering and Technology 2011 paper that studied effluent sources of pollution in the Ravi over a period of three years, the petitioners said, the untreated wastewater discharge from 14 disposal stations into the river was 1,650 cusec.
They said that the problem of environmental pollution due to toxic metals was also becoming a concern in areas where water for irrigation was getting scarce and people were using sewer water for irrigation.
They requested the court to issue directions to the government and the Wasa to fulfil their responsibilities and to provide sewerage treatment facility at wastewater disposal sites where required.
They also sought directions to the EPA to carry out its responsibility and take strict actions against those disposing of pollutants into sewers and drains in excess of prescribed National Environmental Quality Standards. They also requested the court to constitute a commission to investigate the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 12th, 2012.