EPD gears up to deal with looming menace of smog


LAHORE: The Punjab Environment Protection Department (EPD) on Monday decided to take strict measures in wake of smog that is expected to once again take over Punjab from October till January.

A high-level meeting was held in Punjab EPD’s headquarter under the chairmanship of department’s secretary, Dr Zafar Nassarullah, which was attended by representatives of certified private environmental laboratories, all district environment officers (DEOs) and deputy directors of EPA laboratories of eight different cities.

During the meeting, it was decided that joint teams comprising private certified laboratories and EPA’s deputy directors would be established to monitor cement factories. The teams will be given the mandate to monitor and test the emissions; smoke and water produced from cement factories.

“If any factory if found violating environmental laws, a stern action will be taken against it under Punjab Environmental Protection Act (PEPA) of 1997,” the meeting decided.

EPD secretary, while talking to participants, said that the certified private laboratories were also operating as a part of EPA and it was their duty as well to play a positive role during the remedial steps being taken by the department.

Representatives of the laboratories assured the provision of their assistance to EPA and said they would monitor the ambient air quality and waste monitoring according to Punjab Environmental Quality Standards (PEQSs).

All DEOs informed the meeting regarding the environmental situation of their respective districts. They were directed to make sure the closure of all brick kilns in the smog season (October 20 to December 31).

An official, seeking anonymity, told Pakistan Today that taking action against brick kilns would be a big challenge for EPA staff as there was no law in PEPA 1997 under which brick kilns could be closed. He said that all DEOs were wondering how they were supposed to perform this task when EPA itself had no details of how much were brick kilns contributing to the air pollution.