Environment body asks DHA to stop unapproved road works
KARACHI: The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) has asked the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) to stop roads construction and repair at different sites and seek its approval for the work, sources told Dawn on Thursday.
In case of non-compliance, legal action would be initiated against the authority, Sepa warned the DHA.
In a recent letter sent to the DHA administrator, the Sepa director general stated that major work of rehabilitation of roads at the Sea View, Khyaban-i-Shujaat, Khyaban-i-Mujahid, Khyaban-i-Bahria and at some other locations within the DHA jurisdiction had been under way for the past many days.
According to the letter, road rehabilitation is being carried out without consideration of its environmental impact. Also, the provisions of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014, haven’t been fulfilled as no approval has been acquired from Sepa for the work.
Sepa stated: “This activity of road construction and maintenance is creating environmental hazards of air pollution, particularly the dust emissions, within the immediate vicinity, thereby adversely affecting the health of commuters and residents.
“There are also possibilities of accidents and loss of property of general public due to road construction.”
Placed at different places in a ‘crude manner’, asphalt mixing plants are emitting harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, according to the letter, dated June 25, while explaining how their operation was damaging public health.
The letter stated: “Road asphalt contains gravel and sand mixed with asphalt cement obtained from crude oil. Asphalt cement is a mixture of hydrocarbons including naptha, which contribute to the vaporisation of organic compounds at operating temperatures of 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit [148º-176º Celsius].
“Volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and condensed particulates, arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde and cadmium are all toxic air pollutants that are emitted from asphalt plants, which in this case have been placed at vacant plots of major intersections,” the letter stated.
The Sepa letter also mentioned Section 17 of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014 according to which no proponent of a project shall commence construction or operation without filing to Sepa an initial environmental examination or an environmental impact assessment, where the project is likely to cause an adverse environmental effect, and obtaining its approval.
It also refers to Section 2 (XIII) of the law that defines the project as any activity, plan, scheme, proposal or undertaking involving any change in the environment includes construction or use of buildings or other works, construction or use of roads or other transport systems, construction or operation of factories or other installations, mineral prospecting, mining, quarrying, stone-crushing, drilling and the like, any change of land use or water use and alteration, expansion, repair, decommissioning or abandonment of existing buildings, roads, transport systems, factories or other installations.
“It is requested that the compliance of Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014 and rules/regulations must be ensured. Further work at all locations need to be stopped till the compliance of the act for the purpose of environmental management and in the interest of general public,” the letter stated.
According to the sources, the DHA has not sent any reply to Sepa so far.