Directions has been given out to all field formations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by Punjab Environment Secretary Dr Zafar Nasrullah Khan to take precautionary measures to control smog and air pollution once and for all during the winters.
While talking to a local newspaper, Nasimur Rehman Shah, a senior officer of the EPD told that owners of every furnaces and steel mills are being instructed to setup conventional emission control system, like dry scrubber, tout de suite, and more. Failure to do so will result in strict legal action against owners under the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997 (Amended 2012). Under extreme cases, the authorities can permanently shutting down their units under Section 16 of the Environmental Act.
According to Mr. Shah:
“Installation of very effective emission control systems is being carried out in 15 industries of district Sheikhupura. Similar systems will be installed in the industries of Lahore and other districts of the province. The EPA deputy director has issued notices to 29 furnaces and other steel mills of Lahore. Dry scrubbers in a number of industries are being installed.”
Field officers will visit all such industries as per the order without giving prior notice. They will also oversee agreements from mill and furnace owners to setup convectional emission control equipment, before the smog season strikes again.
A meeting was also called together with the Lahore commissioner and all deputy commissioners by the environment secretary. The purpose of this was to pass down instructions, and to constitute committees at the district level to monitor the campaign against smog.
“A meeting has been held with the All Pakistan Brick Kiln Owners Association in which it was decided that all existing old technology brick kilns would be converted into Zig Zag Firing Technology Brick Kilns. The association has already started construction of 20 Zig Zag Brick Kilns in district Kasur, Nankana Sahib, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Rawalpindi and other districts.” – Mr Nasim.
Field officers are ordered to halt the construction of the traditional brick kilns. Trainers from Nepal have been called out to train the owners of brick kilns and make them aware of the new technology brick kilns as well as the conversion of the existing kilns into the new ones.
“Only Zig Zag Technology Brick Kilns would be allowed to continue their operations in November and December. All other old technology brick kilns will stop their operations from Oct 20 to Dec 31 this year.”
Officers were also instructed to ensure extensive plantation of trees.
He also informed that if anyone of the owners do not abide by the rules, immediate strict actions should be taken under the Punjab Environmental Protection Act, 1997.
To control traffic congestion and pollution caused by vehicles on the road, the traffic police and Transport Department have asked for more powers. Local government departments are required to adopt tried-and-tested solid waste management practices. Burning of solid waste has been banned as well in an effort to control air pollution.
The agriculture department has also been requested to take measures to control stubble burning this year, according to the EPD officer.