LAHORE: The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has issued notices to 349 industrial units, most of them steel re-rolling units, located near the Ring Road for setting up factories without obtaining a no-objection certificate.
Officers of the EPD and the city government conducted a survey over the last three weeks, on the orders of the chief minister, to look at zoning violations. Younis Zahid, the deputy district officer (environment), said that these industrial units, located about 500 metres on either side of a 12-km section of the Ring Road from GT Road to Niazi Chowk near Minar-i-Pakistan, were located in non-industrial areas.
The Lahore Master Plan for 1980-2005 declares these areas (in Shalamar Town and Ravi Town) to be agricultural, while the Mater Plan for 2005-2021 declares them residential areas.
Zahid said that most of these factories were steel re-rolling units and they belched out filthy black smoke along the Ring Road.
He said that the EPD had issued notices to re-rolling units for air pollution in the past but it had not been effective. “Industrial units in Shadipura and in the vicinity of Khokhar Village and Mehmood Booti, also along the Ring Road, have been issued EPOs and notices for using dirty fuel several times before,” he said.
Only two of the 349 units have been issued notices for causing pollution. The rest have been issued notices for violating Section 12 of the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, which states that EPD approval is required to undertake a project which could have adverse environmental effects. He said that the Building Control Authority was responsible for zoning matters and should not have allowed these units to set up in non-industrial areas. He said that the EPD would not have issued them NOCs for setting up factories in these places.
Zahid said that the factory owners would begin submitting their responses to the notices from Monday. He said that many owners claimed to have purchased the units prior to 1980 and to be ignorant of the requirement for an NOC from the EPD.
Mehmood Tamanna, executive district officer for municipal services, said that during the survey, officials also compiled a report of material use, land use and pollution caused by the industrial units in the region.
Tamanna said that the report was divided into three sections looking at units set up before 1997, when there was no Environmental Protection Agency or Department; at units set up from 1997 to 2001; and at units built since 2001.
He said there had been a drastic surge in the number of units and subsequently, pollution, in the region, though he did not specify when the greatest increase had taken place. Commissioner Jawad Rafiq Malik could not be reached for comment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2012.
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