ISLAMABAD: More than 800 containers, loaded with hazardous material imported by unknown companies are parked at different terminals of Karachi Port. They are causing a serious threat to life as well as environment while none of the government departments is taking responsibility for imports of this material, The News has learnt.
A senior official posted at Karachi Port told this correspondent that the containers are lying at different terminals of port and the staff cannot handle them. Burning of the material is dangerous to life and environment, while dumping is also not feasible, he said.
The official said that they didn't have the expertise to handle such material. The News is in possession of letter addressed by Federal Tax Ombudsman asking to Commerce Minister on 21 February 2018, asking it to dispose of hazardous/ contaminated plastic waste.
The said letter read, “It is learnt that around 800 containers of plastic waste and scrap are presently lying at various ports of east and west Collectorates of Customs Karachi. Most of these containers are filled with plastic bags waste which is hazardous and, therefore, cannot be auctioned. The destruction of such waste is also a major issue as it causes severe environmental damage.”
The letter further stated that import policy order issued by the ministry of Commerce under Import & Export (Control) Act 1950, governs the imposition of conditions/ restrictions on the import of plastic scrap/ waste. Hospital waste of all kind, used sewerage pipes and used chemical containers were completely banned under Sr No 25 of Appendix-A of the import policy order, 2016 (IPO 2016). However, in terms of Sr 52 Appendix-B (part-1) of IPO plastic scrap/ waste is importable subject to, inter alia, pre-shipment inspection in the exporting condition that the consignment being exported to Pakistan did not contain any hazardous substance as defined in Basel Convention. Despite this, consignments of such waste have been brought and dumped at the ports, the letter stated.
When The News contacted federal secretary Younas Dhaga there was no law which makes it binding for importers to seek permission before import. If there was any violation of Import Policy then the FBR is the authority to take action.
Chief Collector Customs Karachi Abdur Rashid, when contacted, said that the Customs can take action only when imported material is brought for clearing. Customs could not take action on import of material lying at port, he concluded.