Industrial pollution makes citizens’ life miserable


Contrary to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) by-laws, elimination of the buffer zone between the industrial and residential areas in sectors I-9 and I-10 has increased health hazards for the residents.
In Islamabad’s master plan, this industrial area was isolated from residential areas through a buffer zone, but, later, the CDA converted the buffer zone into a commercial area. After removal of the buffer zone by the CDA, polluting industry became the central point surrounded by the populated area. Inhabitants now can become direct victims of air and water pollution.
It is learnt that there are seven kinds of factories operating in the industrial area. They include steel melting units, re-rolling mills, flour mills, oil and ghee industries, marble cutting and polishing units, pharmaceutical firms and metalworking and engineering units. An official in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on the condition of anonymity, told Pakistan Today that out of the seven steel melting units, only a few managed to acquire the anti-pollution equipment which have now become partially non-operational for lack of proper maintenance and other problems. “The remaining units are operating continuously without observing any safety measures to minimise the risk of air and water pollution,” he added. He further said the owners use anti-pollution equipment at the time of the visits of the officials concerned, but, unfortunately such visits are very rare.
These units produce metal dust, slag and gaseous emissions besides discharge untreated effluents into the main drains that eventually fall into the River Soan. Muhammad Anwer, a resident of a nearby area, wearing a mask, told Pakistan Today, “I have suffered from breathing problem due to the pollution from these industries.” He said his breathing problem had aggravated with the level of the dust particles in the air.
He added he had his own house, so he could not change the place. “I made several attempts to sale the house, but people offer very low price due to these industrial units,” he lamented. Anwer said he and many other residents requested the EPA and the CDA to take adequate measures, but all their efforts proved fruitless.
EPA Director General Asif Shujah told Pakistan Today that though the industrial units had installed anti-pollution devices, but they use it only at the time of the officials’ inspection.
He said: “Now on the directives of the Supreme Court, we have asked all the industrial units to start online dust and smoke monitoring system which will help control emission. Next week we are going to visit these units to check weather they have installed online monitoring system or not, if we find any violation, the EPA will take strict action,” he said. When contacted, Sajjad Ali Shah, director environment, CDA, said the proposal to shift all industrial units, currently operating in sectors I-9 and I-10, is still in the planning phase.