ISLAMABAD: Against all rules, a flour mill is under construction in the residential Shahpur Phulgiran area in Bhara Kahu because of the failings of the municipal administration and the environmental watchdog.
A Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) monitoring team visited the area on April 28 and reported that illegal construction of mills was underway.
Now as construction work on the flour mill enters its final stages, with machinery and equipment being installed, the Pak-EPA is pondering whether the contractor should be issued an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) and the building razed, or if it should demand an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.
On June 15, while taking notice of the monitoring team report and complaints filed by residents of the area, Pak-EPA summoned the mill owner to appear on June 22 and explain himself on the charges of illegal construction of a flour mill in a residential area without the approval of an EIA or initial environmental evaluation (IEE) report.
The owner, Dedar Hussain Shah, is the son of a local religious leader, Sulaman Shah. The younger Shah did not bother to attend the hearing and instead sent a written reply. The reply states that he could not manage the expenses of langar (charity kitchen) for devotees at his father’s shrine so he decided to build the mill to reduce costs. He also claims that he was approached by people from Murree, Karor, Patriata and other adjoining areas, all of whom asked him to build a flour mill so that they could get flour more easily.
Shah also said that there is no flour mill “for 50 miles” and people have to travel long distances to get flour. On the other hand, Pak-EPA Director Environment Ziaul Islam said that flour mills were on the Capital Development Authority (CDA) negative list, which means that the industry had reached saturatation point in Islamabad. He said that Shahpur was less than ten kilometres from Sector I-9, where many legal flour mills already operate.
Islam further said that this flour mill is not located in either of the designated industrial areas — Sector I-9 and Humak — and no industrial activity could be allowed in residential areas.
“The mill owner would be issued an EPO, and if he does not stop building the mill, a case would be filed against him in the environmental tribunal,” he said, adding that the CDA should dismantle the illegal structure built by the owner.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.