PPP accuses Punjab govt of political victimisation after closure of mills


Party members feel unjustly targeted after mills closed to protect environment

LAHORE: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has alleged that the Punjab government has started its political victimisation as it has sealed dozens of steel mills which were owned by its political rivals.

The city district government on Friday started operation against the steel mills working in northern part of Lahore, on the basis that they were polluting the air and causing smog in the city.

Approximately 300 steel mills are operating in the northern part of the city where a score of mills were reportedly working in violation of standard operating procedures. The government and its concerned authorities last week had decided to take action against the violators of environmental rules following the fears of smog in the city. To take action against such industrial units, a special task was assigned to the Environmental Protection Agency which further formed different teams to work in the area.

However, PPP’s Lahore President Aziz ur Rehman Chan has leveled sever allegation against Punjab government that it has started politically victimising PPP’s businessmen. Chan, who also runs a business related to steel, said that government officials on Friday reached his steel mills and ordered to seal without giving any prior notice.

Talking to Pakistan Today, he blamed that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government have been victimising PPP’s businessmen in past through different departments but this time it has carried out this move through the environment department. “My mill was following all the SOPs and laws related to the environment but it was sealed just on political basis,” he said and further blamed that in the same area steel mills owned by PML-N leaders Sheikh Rohail Asghar and others are also working but no department has dared to take action against them.

“Steel mills and other units of PML-N leaders are violating the SOPs while they are involved in creating air pollution which is a threat to human and animal’s life,” Chan said, and added that Lahore’s pollution was caused by government’s poor policies as it has dug the entire city and failed to control vehicular pollution.

Another steel mills owner and PPP leader, Zafarullah Cheema, while talking to Pakistan Today said that the department had sealed around 70 steel mills in violation of laws. He said that no intimation or notice was served to them before taking action against them which revealed government’s political motives behind this move.

Cheema told that the fate of around 50 thousand workers now hung in balance due to closure of these mills. “Pakistan is already facing unemployment issues and this will add to unemployment,” he said and demanded government to unseal their steel mills.

On a question, Cheema said that not a single violation was carried out in their mills. However, he said that a few factories were missing scrubbers for which they required at least one week to be installed as there was just a single manufacturer producing the said equipment.

Spokesman of EPA, Naseem-ur-Rehman, while rejecting the allegation leveled by such mills owners, told Pakistan Today that EPA had time and again issued notices to such violators and these mills were sealed according to the laws.