The Environment Protection Department has issued a notice to the supervisors and contractors of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project for failing to control dust levels and traffic hazards as prescribed in the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the project.
The office of the district coordination officer (DCO) has received hundreds of complaints about high dust levels and traffic problems from residents of areas close to the work site on Ferozepur Road, said Tariq Zaman, the DCO’s personal staff officer.
“For the last eight months, we have been dusting the house two or three times a day, and it is still never clean. I have to wash my car daily,” said Saeed Zaidi, a resident of Nishtar Colony.
“My children used to go to a nearby park to play in the evenings, but they stopped going several months ago because the dust makes it hard to breathe. It is impossible to take a walk around the neighbourhood,” he said.
Zaidi said many people from the neighbourhood had damaged their vehicles or fallen from their motorbikes upon encountering an unexpected hole while driving on Ferozepur Road.
“We have registered several complaints with their offices along the site to seal the area and install lights during the night, but no notice has been taken,” he said. He added that it was also very noisy at night.
EPD spokesman and EIA director Naseemur Rehman Shah said that DCO Noorul Amin Mengal had met with EPD officers a couple of weeks ago and asked them to check that the contractors were taking measures prescribed in the EIA report. The report stated that workers would sprinkle water at the site to reduce dust levels.
This was not being done and so on June 29, the EPD issued an “advisory notice” to Mazhar Hussain Khan, a director at the Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA), which is supervising the BRTS; the project director of the National Logistics Cell (NLC), the contractor for the project; and Azharul Haq, the chief executive officer of IKAN engineering services, a sub contractor.
Shah said that the officials had been told to seal the dug-up areas, as they posed a risk to motorcyclists and cars, particularly at night. They were also told to pump out water from depressions around the construction site to prevent the formation of mosquito breeding grounds, especially in view of the upcoming monsoons. Finally, they were asked to sprinkle water at the site to bring down levels of dust, which is a major air pollutant.
EPD Secretary Saeed Iqbal Wahla said that if these measures were not taken, the department would issue an Environmental Protection Order and the case would be sent to the Punjab Environmental Tribunal for further action.
The DCO had also received several complaints about traffic problems on the road due to the BRTS construction, said Zaman.
He said that the city traffic police had been directed to triple the deployment of wardens along the road and to ensure there is at least one at each intersection.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2012.
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