KARACHI: The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) has penalised scores of industries, claiming Rs3 million in fines for violations of environmental laws under the Sindh Environmental Protection Act 2014, Bol News has learnt.
In addition to this, the environmental protection agency recovered Rs80m water charges from bottled water companies while 4,373 vehicles were fined during the vehicular emission monitoring, according to the progress report of Sepa 2021
It says that the agency imposed penalties on various industrial and commercial units for utter violation of environmental laws. It also recovered Rs80m water charges from bottled water companies extracting groundwater as a raw material according to the order passed by the Supreme Court. The agency monitored smoke-emitting vehicles in coordination with the traffic police with the objective of controlling air pollution in all major cities. During the vehicular emission monitoring campaign, the agency with police monitored 25,130 heavy vehicles while 4,373 vehicles were fined.
“This year, we have prioritised air pollution to mitigate it and to improve air quality in terms of industries, solid waste management and coal burning, vehicular traffic emission as we are focusing on air quality by evolving a strategy because this air quality harms all people including children,” Sepa director general Naeem Ahmed Mughal said.
Managing mass vehicular traffic is a bit of a hassle as Sepa is a regulatory agency, he added. “We do not have ample resources to curb vehicular traffic or carry and dispose of solid waste. That is why we keep taking actions, penalising and issuing warnings to public and private organisations in the metropolis.”
He further said the agency has already prepared a draft for approval of provincial climate change policy while addressing some more issues. He stated that the agency has planned to work on a climate-resilient infrastructure to counter natural catastrophes such as urban and rural flooding etc.
Residents of Karachi are facing a spate of environmental pollution which consist of water pollution or waste-water pollution, solid waste pollution, marine pollution, air pollution, industrial pollution, soil pollution, noise pollution, vehicular emissions and radiation pollution.
Environmental expert Nasir Panhwar called for climate-resilient infrastructure and approval of provincial climate change policy. “Mass transportation, discouraging car culture, dumping solid waste [at] proper landfill sites, banning unplanned urbanisation, encroachment on nature waterways including Malir and Lyari are necessary.”
Pollutants include carbon particles, smoke, air emission, carbon dioxide, and different gasses which take a heavy toll on the physical and biological environment.
According to the report, 200 treatment plants have been installed in various industrial zones of the province, binding 87 tanneries to treat their effluent through combined effluent treatment plants specially designed for tanneries.
Moreover, 55 industrial units are in process to establish waste-water treatment plants. This action has scaled down marine pollution and got rid of treated effluent in freshwater bodies.
Reportedly, eight incinerators have been installed by the health department recently. All major hospitals of the province have been directed to take effective measures for efficient disposal of hospital waste. This action will contain the spread of diseases due to infectious waste which was previously dumped with municipal solid waste.
Surveying air quality
An air quality survey was conducted in more than 100 locations of Karachi including over 20 spots of every district aimed to minimise air pollution in all cities of the province.
Targeted actions to curb air pollution were necessary. The agency took a number of actions while demolishing and stopping operations of illegal units of battery recycling, brick kilns, coal storage, while focusing on Karachi and Hyderabad. The agency directed all coal-fired power plants and cement plants to install air pollution control equipment through legal enforcement. Thirty-six rice mills and 25 cotton ginners have installed air emission control systems (cyclone separators/dust catchers) to curb air pollution in Larkana and Mirpurkhas.
Plastic waste can persist in the environment for several hundred years; it poses serious environmental hazards and health problems in humans as well as in animals. Some of the major problems are animal death, blockage of sewage lines, deterioration of natural beauty and human health problems. In view of the seriousness of the issue, the Sindh government has promulgated rules called prohibition of non-biodegradable plastic products. The agency converted around 30m kg of flexible plastics into biodegradable plastics from 2014 till date.
The 30km of coastal water in Karachi receives a heavy pollution load of both domestic and industrial origin. The industrial and municipal sewer discharges come to around 472 million gallons per day (MGD), while affecting marine ecosystems causing toxic pollutants and deterioration of water quality.
Water, air, noise and other types of pollution are caused by means of industrial pollution. Rising urbanisation and industrialisation in the country increased serious types of water and air pollution and other environmental problems as 1,228 out of a total 6,634 registered industries are highly polluting units in various industrial zones of Karachi.
Noise is everywhere, it is not as easy to control as the sources of water and air pollution. However, planting trees on roadsides and near buildings can absorb noise. More can be done by banning old and heavy vehicles as well as using generators, pressure horns and sound systems installed on pushcarts of hawkers.
Annual development programme
The Sindh government increased the development budget of Rs71m from the last financial year to Rs592.359m by giving top priority to the environment sector. It would spend on establishment of urban forest, sewage recycling plant for urban forest at Clifton, municipal sewage treatment plant in DHA Phase 7, sewage recycling plant for family park in Clifton and many other projects.
Sepa as a custodian of the environment aims to provide a safe, clean and healthy environment to the people of Sindh; to ensure protection and conservation of natural resources, rehabilitation and improvement of the environment and to curb pollution for sustainable development in the province. After the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the subject of environment has been devolved to the province. The Sindh government promulgated the environmental protection act, rules and regulations in 2014.
The act aims to provide for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and improvement of the environment, for the prevention and control of pollution, and promotion of sustainable development.