Necessary recommendations: EPA asked to set emission limits, monitor airborne pollution
ISLAMABAD: The concentration of toxic particulates in the federal capital’s ambient air exceed the standard set by the National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS), says a report.
The report, prepared by an independent commission, has recommended the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) to revise quality standards and set emission limit, run an assessment campaign to monitor the amount of toxins, including mercury, to control pollution in the city.
In its report submitted to the Islamabad High Court (IHC), on Thursday, the 13-member commission headed by environmental law expert Dr Parvez Hassan said that based on a survey the ambient air quality standards for the city must be revised and emission limits be set.
The report says the present ambient air quality should also be displayed and shared with the public.
The commission that was constituted on the directives of Justice Athar Minallah of the IHC, in its report maintained that the ambient air quality annual average mass concentration of particulate matter and nitric oxide exceed the standard.
The commission underlined that major contributors of air pollution in the capital were motor vehicles and the emissions from the industrial units in sectors I-9 and I-10.
The commission proposed setting up permanent monitoring units, compulsory emission limits and re-introduction of self-monitoring and reporting tool (Smart) for the industries.
“This will monitor the emission quality and quantity as well as help in better reporting under the NEQs,” the report says.
The commission noted that Smart would also enable EPA to easily detect industries exceeding the threshold set by NEQS, and take timely action.
The commission has also recommended to strengthen EPA to enforce test protocols for inspection and maintenance of vehicles and industrial machinery, and “pre-emission cleaning and refining techniques” in the industrial area of the capital.
It has also proposed to introduce combustion efficiency in diesel engines in factories by using cleaner fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and promoting lead-free gasoline by giving incentives to refineries.
The commission has also suggested levying high taxes on diesel and other fuels containing high levels of lead and sulphur.
It has also suggested follow-up of commitments made in the approval of the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) of projects in the capital to ensure that vegetation cover removed for construction was replenished.
Private sector must be involved in plantation efforts, and the subsequent care, along major road works, such as the Islamabad Expressway, the report recommends.
It is, generally, and well-perceived that a lack of institutional mechanism for public consultation and participation has compromised the standards of transparency and accountability, which, resultantly, has led to arbitrary amendments of the Master Plan and the zoning regulations, and weakened the process of the EIA, the report says.
The commission had recommended setting up of an institutionalised permanent public engagement committee (“PEC”) for each zone.
The report suggests the PECs may comprise of parliamentarians, representative(s) of the elected local government, urban planners, architects, engineers, media, civil society, academics, and ex-officio members from the local administration.