HARIPUR: The residents of Hattar village and surrounding areas have criticised what they termed the non-serious attitude of the industrialists who have caused irreparable loss to the environment in Haripur.
The Hattar Industrial Estate renamed as Hattar Economic Zone was established in 1985 and is the 9th largest industrial estate in the country.
It is spread over an area of around 40,000 kanals and over 400 industries were established in the region but only 268 are operating now. There are currently around 30,000 labourers, including 5,000 women.
There are cement, chemical, marble, vegetable, pharmaceutical and beverage industries that are key polluters according to the chemical assessment of Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Talking to The News, Programme Coordinator of Sungi Development Foundation Ijaz Ajmal Khan said the industrial units had no treatment plants.
He said the industrial units discharged untreated effluent in water channels. He added that untreated water was absorbed by the land.
“Due to the absorption of untreated water in the adjoining lands, the taste of the water from the wells and tube-well had become salty and smelly,” he added.
The common diseases in the region, according to health sources, are respiratory, brain tumor, bronchitis and skin allergy. The smell of the water has made life miserable for the local residents.
The dust rising from two cement industries situated near Hattar village is also contributing to environmental pollution. According to Bakhsh Elahi, member of AAWAZ district forum, one of the two cement factories had faulty dust control system.
He said the residents of Hattar, Shadi, Farooqia, Rani Wah, Pind Gujran, Chach, Suraj Gali and surrounding areas were exposed to the dust, which could cause respiratory problems. He maintained that the dust had also affected the fertility of agriculture land and orchards.
According to official sources, the Federal Ministry of Environment approved the establishment of Combined Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) in the industrial estate in February 2007.
The CETP, which was estimated at Rs225 million was proposed to be established in Phase-IV of the Hattar Estate. Unfortunately the plan couldn’t be implemented.
Chairman of Sarhad Development Authority Haripur Israr Khan said that work couldn’t be undertaken on the CETP project even after eight years.
Mazhar Hussain Shah, president of AAWAZ District Forum Haripur, said that though Hattar-based industrialists earned millions, it caused damaged ecology of Haripur.
He said the quarters concerned were least bothered about the health related problems of locals and didn’t allocate mandatory share of Corporate Social Responsibility to control pollution.