ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) has expressed dismay over the deteriorating environmental pollution situation and sanitation problems in the federal capital.
The apex court on Thursday sought a report from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman regarding the setting up of hotels and restaurants on greenbelts.
A division bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Umar Atta Bandial was hearing a suo motu notice case related to environmental pollution.
The court observed that Islamabad was no longer the clean city it used to be 10 years ago because people in the federal capital were facing problems because of environmental pollution, aggravated by smoke-emitting vehicles and a bad sewerage system.
The SC also sought reports from the federal and provincial governments on controlling pollution in the hearing and ordered the Islamabad administration to launch a campaign for conservation and beautification of the hilly areas.
Muhammad Rashid Cheema, representative of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), submitted a report and informed that all the stone-crushing factories in Taxila had been closed and logging on the Margalla Hills had also been stopped.
He told the court that oil refineries had been directed to adopt modern filtration systems and that they were examining vehicles with the latest monitoring units.
Justice Afzal said forests in Khanpur and Maripur areas were still being cut, which was a cause of frequent landslides in the area.
The court also directed the CDA, EPA and the forest department to take effective measures to stop the cutting of trees in the area.
The EPA representative reported that under the 18th Amendment, the subject of environment and ecology were devolved to the provinces.
He said that all the provincial governments were now empowered to take appropriate measures to control environmental pollution in their respective provinces.
Cheema also ran through a number of measures taken to reduce automobile pollution output.
Justice Afzal expressed satisfaction over some of the steps but observed that the sewerage issue should not be ignored. The hearing was adjourned till the second week of January.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2014.