350 `polluting` units in SITE lose licences
KARACHI: The Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) has cancelled licence agreements of 350 industrial units and initiated the process of cancelling their lease for violating environment protection rules, it emerged on Friday. The institution has asked the finance department to allocate between five and six million rupees to file lease cancellation cases in the Sindh High Court.
Earlier, notices were issued to these units — mostly involved in textile bleaching and dyeing — asking them to set up treatment plants on their premises within a month as required under the rules framed by the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and ensure treatment of the effluent before releasing it into the sewerage.
Industry Secretary Zamir Ahmed Khan told Dawn that the action had been taken against the units for dumping untreated effluent outside their factories in violation of the prescribed environmental protection laws.
According to him, the action is also in line with a Supreme Court verdict directing the additional attorney-general to hold regular meetings with various provincial departments as well as industrialists to solve the problem of environmental pollution in SITE and other industrial areas of the province.
SITE managing-director Rashid Solangi told Dawn that originally similar notices were issued to about 2,600 units functioning in the estate. Later, a committee of environmental engineers was formed to identify the units violating environmental laws.
The committee collected samples of liquid industrial waste from 350 units, mostly textile bleaching and dyeing units, and the samples were sent to Bahria University for testing, he said, adding that the test reports confirmed that the units did not meet the national environmental quality standards prescribed for the treatment of industrial effluent.
Acting upon the test reports, SITE cancelled the licence agreements of 350 units to stop them from continuing with their activities on the government-allotted lands.
Earlier, responding to the notices, owners of the 350 units denied that they were dumping their toxic waste outside their units or violating any environmental laws.
Meanwhile, the Site Association of Industry, which represents industrial units in the estate, said that the responsibility of setting up a combined effluent treatment plant (CETP) rested with the government, specifically the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board or municipal bodies. The association believed that it was impossible for each factory to have a treatment plant on its premises, measuring about 2,000 square yards.
Senior vice-chairman of the association Asad Nisar Barkhurdaria told Dawn that besides denying any violation of environmental rules in response to the notice, the industrialists had moved the court against the cancellation of their lease by SITE.
He said that cancellation of lease could seriously harm the process of industrialisation, which provided jobs to thousands of workers.
Meanwhile, the additional attorney-general held a meeting with senior provincial officials in the Sindh secretariat on April 27 and reviewed the progress of the implementation of the Supreme Court verdict.
The AAG also directed the Sindh government to expedite funding for setting up of four CETPs planned for industrial estates in Karachi and Hyderabad at a cost of Rs7 billion in line with the decision of PDWP.
The meeting also discussed land issues with officials of the Sindh Board of Revenue, and directed them to take measures for the removal of encroachment, if any, on the lands reserved for the treatment plants.
The AAG asked the managing director of SITE for details of action taken under the law in respect of the factories violating environmental laws.
The meeting reviewed the work of different municipal towns to ensure daily lifting of garbage from industrial as well residential areas.