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Polluting the environment: Two steel mills sealed in industrial area

EPA closes factories for environmental, labour law infractions.

EPA closes factories for environmental, labour law infractions.

ISLAMABAD: Two steel mills in the capital’s industrial sector have been sealed for violating environmental laws and creating pollution.

A monitoring team from the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) visited the city’s industrial area in Sector I-9 on Thursday and found Siddique Steel Mills and SH Steel incompliant with environmental laws.

The Supreme Court mandated anti-pollution devices were also found to be inactive at the plants during the monitoring team’s visit. The team also found that emissions from the mills’ online dust and stack chimneys were polluting the surrounding area.

In addition, the team found labour at the sites not using mandated personal protection equipment  as well as poor housekeeping practices.

Pak- EPA Deputy Director Laboratory Farzana Altaf Shah directed these industries to shut down till compliance with environmental laws and working conditions is put in place.

“Steel mills do not use abatement technologies and personal protection equipment,” she said, and added that factory owners avoid running scrubbers and blurs in a bid to save electricity bills and emit suspended particulate matters and carbon particles in the open air.

People who live in the vicinity of these factories are subject to polluted air and water, she added.

Farah Khan, a resident of Sector-I/10, said factories should not be given a free pass to pollute the air and waterways.

“The Pak-EPA has continually failed to regulate pollution from industrial units,” Khan said.

“Air pollution from factories harms public health, the environment and quality of life,” said Tahir Hussain, a professor who lives near the factories.

“Despite the EPA’s acknowledgment of the harmful impact of factory polluted air for over a decade, it still fails to act on the matter effectively,” Hussain lamented.

At present, the capital’s industrial area comprises eight steel melting furnaces, 11 re-rolling mills, 25 flour mills, five oil and ghee mills, more than 30 marble-cutting and polishing units, more than 10 pharmaceutical units, two galvanising units and two metal works.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2015.

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