ISLAMABAD: The Environmental Tribunal will resume work after over 20 months by taking up a set of cases against polluters today (Thursday).
The Environment Protection Agency has set up two teams to actively monitor and file cases against polluters in Islamabad in response to pressure exerted by the recently-commissioned environment tribunal.
The teams will work to track and identify pollutant sources and will later file legal suits in environmental tribunal for action against them.
Earlier, the composition of the tribunal was completed. The body had been non-functional since its previous chairman was transferred on March 5, 2013.
“Environment regulators issue environment protection orders to violators over non-compliance with the laws, but EPA cannot impose penalties and punishments by itself. The cases are referred to the tribunals, which then initiate legal proceedings against the violators,” EPA Director-General (DG) Dr Muhammad Khurshid Khan said.
Around 135 cases have been pending since 2013 and no action has been taken against polluters during the whole period. Cases against around a hundred alleged polluters, mostly accused of causing pollution in the catchment areas of Rawal Lake, are also pending.
In September, the Islamabad High Court had appointed Irum Niazi, a special court judge, by giving her the additional charge of presiding over the tribunal.
The other two members of the tribunal including legal and technical members have also been nominated by the law ministry. The absence of the legal and technical members had been the main cause for the tribunal not being functional.
“The composition of the tribunal is now complete with one member being nominated from Peshawar. On Thursday, the tribunal will hold its first hearing in Islamabad in almost two years,” the EPA sources said.
The environment protection tribunals were formed under Section 20 of the Pakistan Environment Protection Act.
The tribunals have the powers to give directions, act to override other laws and make regulations to mention some. It particularly deals with violations of national environment quality standards and environment impact assessments.
These include development activities in all sectors and zones.
The sources said that non-compliance could result in environmental degradation, regardless of the size and scale of the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2014.