‘Two environment monitoring stations shut since 2012’
Karachi: The Sindh Assembly was informed on Tuesday that the environment monitoring stations installed in two major industrial zones of Karachi with Japanese assistance in 2007 to the check levels of air pollution were closed since 2012.
Environment and coastal development minister Dr Sikandar Mandhro was responding to a query during a question hour related to his department.
The lawmakers expressed their concerns over the increasing pollution especially because of the constant discharge of industrial and domestic effluent into the sea without any treatment.
The minister conceded that pollution was increasing in the province, but added that the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) alone could not reverse the damage as all government departments concerned should take responsibility and take measures on an emergency basis for mitigating the situation.
The House was informed that the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had conceived a plan of building the environment monitoring system in Pakistan at a cost of Rs1.23 billion. The JICA’s share was 79 percent (Rs 973 million) in the project while the Pakistani government had to bear 21 percent (Rs 260 million) of the cost in the project. The Sindh government’s share was 17 percent in cost in the shape of provision of technical assistance and environmental monitoring equipment.
Two environmental monitoring stations and one mobile monitoring station were provided under this project to SEPA. One of the stations was installed at the premises of SEPA in Korangi to monitor the air quality in Korangi Industrial Area. The second station was installed at the premises of the office of the deputy-commissioner of the Central district in North Nazimabad to monitor SITE Industrial Area.
The basic purpose of these stations was to measure the presence of harmful gases and pollutants in the air of major industrial zones of the city.
After 18th Constitutional Amendment, the liabilities of the project were shifted to Sindh without any financial assistance from the federal government, the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency or the donor agency JICA.
At present, these stations are closed since 2012 because of the unavailability of funds required for their operations and maintenance.
It was estimated that an amount of Rs6 million would be required to run the stations.
The SEPA took the initiative of making these stations functional and prepared a PC-1 at a cost of Rs146 million.
The PC-1 was approved during the financial year 2013-14 by the Planning and Development Department of Sindh while Rs 55 million were released for the current financial year 2015-16.
The process for the procurement of equipment for reviving the project has been initiated in accordance with the Sindh Public Procurement Regulatory Authority rules.
Dr Mandhro maintained that the environmental monitoring stations in Karachi would be become functional again in the next few months.
The minister also said the provincial government would soon propose a law under which there would only the manufacturing of bio-degradable plastic bags would be allowed in the province.
He added that after the adoption of the law, all units involved in manufacturing of substandard plastic bags would be sealed.
The minister also told the House that around 450 million gallons of untreated sewerage water was being discharged into the sea from nine major sources in Karachi alone every day.
At present, 32 cases are being adjudged at the level of provincial environmental tribunals, 81 at the level of high court, nine at Supreme Court, and 15 by the provincial ombudsman in complaints pursued by SEPA against industrial and commercial establishments.
The minister said that for the last two years, a strict policy had been enforced under which new industrial units were required on mandatory basis to build waste water treatment and recycling facilities of their own. These private firms have set up 25 treatment plants so far.