We need a clean capital……
April 08, 2011
The quest with regards to make environment of Islamabad clean by the smoke of steel mills and to make it worthy living is being jeopardized as Environment Monitoring System (EMS) worth of multi billion rupees are out of order in the federal capital of Islamabad. The representatives of civil societies after failing to put an end to an endless smoke and air pollution of furnaces of steel re-rolling mills of sector I-9 finally approached the Supreme Court last year and the court while hearings of a constitutional petition filed by Nazir Ahmad and Suleman Siddiqui directed on July 19 that all steel mills operating in residential sectors of Islamabad that are not equipped with dust indicators must be closed down. And The Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary had directed Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak EPA) Director General to make arrangements to implement the court’s decision. As of now when still mills are being equipped with the online dust monitoring systems, it had been revealed that the EMS had become inactive and could not be linked with the online dust monitoring systems of the steel mills. The owners of steel mills were directed by the Pak EPA to install these dust indicators and then link these indicators with the EMS Central Laboratory for Environment Monitoring and Networking (CLEAN) situated in sector H-8 of Islamabad. Sources said that sensitive equipments installed at the CLEAN went out of order for over five months ago, and despite repeated requisitions the authorities concerned in the Ministry of Environment did not responded. The equipments that analyze and monitor the air and water quality also stopped working. EMS equipment installed at Lahore station also went out of order and station had consequently shut down as well.
Javed Iqbal, Chief Executive, and Vice Chairman of Pakistan Steel Melting Association said that He had compliance with the SC directions and had installed the required monitoring equipments in the steel mill.
He said that, we are already abiding all the rules and regulations of CDA and Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency. I annually arrange inspection of my steel mill and not a single time it had been exceeded the prescribed emission level. He said that maximum emission level is 500 micro gram/m2 and he always remains with in the prescribed limits. It is up to ministry now to monitor my emission level and get their equipments operational, he added. Meanwhile, the incharge of CLEAN laboratory confirmed that due to some reasons, the EMS had become inactive; he said that as soon as the required funds are released, the system after getting necessary maintenance would be functional. He, however, said that due to dysfunctional EMS we are not in a position to monitor the air pollution caused by the steel mills. An official in the Ministry of Environment on condition of anonymity said that Ministry of Environment had not released even a single penny during the current fiscal year to the EMS program. He said that financial constraint not only harming the equipments but all the staff working in this project had not been paid for last consecutive five months. Saqib Aleem, Joint Secretary Development, Ministry of Environment when contacted, said that there is no issue of funds for EMS project. He, however, said that during the current fiscal year in lieu of our allocated budget of Rs. 1.5 billion we are being given just Rs. 950 million. He said that we are also facing delay in the release of funds; consequently some of our projects are suffering the short of funds.
It is worth mentioning that EMS worth of Rs. 2.32 billions was started during 2003 with an initial cost of Rs. 1098.2 million including foreign exchange of Rs. 973 million. An amount of Rs. 660 million was provided as grant in aid by Government of Japan. The second phase of project got approved by ECNEC in November 2008 with a total budget of Rs. 1233 million including foreign exchange of again Rs. 973 million while local component was Rs. 260 million. The Project started functioning in 2009. The AQMS laboratories of five stations prepared air and water pollution report of different areas of Federal Capital and four provincial capitals on daily basis. With the help of these reports, EPAs also identified most polluted areas of their respective jurisdiction and some time raided the polluter and took corrective measures as well.