Monday May 20, 2024

Eight squads formed to implement anti-smog rules

By Ali Raza
May 31, 2023

LAHORE: Adopting a proactive approach to timely counter threat of smog, Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has constituted eight special squads to start taking actions against polluters. In this regard, EPA DG Zaheer Abbas Malik, in exercise of the powers conferred upon him under Section 5(5) of the Punjab Environment Protection Act, 1997, delegated functions & powers u/s Section 16(1)(2)&(3) read with Section 6(1) (a) & (t) & Section 7(f) of the Act ibid, to the Anti-Smog Squads, for a period of four weeks, as a special campaign.

Documents available with the scribe revealed that the TORs of these squads said that the Squads shall proceed with inspections, inquiry, investigation, personal hearings under section 6(2)(a) of the Act ibid, to pass an order to the persons involved in causing pollution after providing opportunity of being heard at the spot and will stop sources of air pollution at once and implement directions given in the Environmental Protection Order, undertake legal action or to file a complaint before the Punjab Environmental Tribunal under section 21(3)(a) which, in his opinion, was discharging or emitting air pollution liable to contribute to smog formation and adverse environmental effect, to the extent of Air Pollution within their assigned areas.

The Squad In-charge shall also invoke / implement provisions of the declaration of Smog as calamity vide PDMA’s Notification No. Smog-2020/10/Coord-], dated: 14.10.2020 read with Notifications No. Smog-2020/12/Coord-1, dated: 15.10.2020, No. Smog-2020/148/Coord, dated: 01.10.2021 & No. Smog-2020/173/Coord-1I, dated: 18.11.2021 under Punjab National Calamities (Prevention and Relief) Act, 1958 and have banned / restricted all activities contributing to Smog. The Environment Agency Punjab vide its Letter No 22/DD/Tech/P&C/EPA/2021.dt, 26-02-2021, SO (Tech)/EPD/1-86/2019 (Vol-1) dated: 20-09-2021, 68/DD (Tech)/EPA/2021 dated: 06-10-2021, has also banned operation of industrial entities operating without pollution control measured and old technology Brick Kilns (BTK) in compliance of the Court Orders & Smog Commission's Recommendations.

The Lahore High Court had ordered imposing fines Rs50.000 to Rs100,000 vide order dated 18.11.2021 passed in WP No. (227807/2018) and operating without effective pollution control measures. Lodging of FIRs, Sealing and imposing fines had been directed under the above-mentioned orders/notifications under relevant laws.

The squads shall implement court orders regarding imposing fine on the persons operating their brick-kilns on Old Technology BTK and on those who have not yet converted to Zigzag Technology.

The notification said Dr Fareeha, Research Officer, EPA Laboratory, in addition her duties, shall also act as in-charge Smog Control Room for data compilation of daily activities of the campaign from 9am – 4pm, Muhammad Fahad, Computer Programmer and Asif, Stenographer will assist Dr. Fareeha, Research Officer, EPA Laboratory, for data compilation of daily activities of the campaign from 9am - 4 pm.

These special squads shall take effective measures for installation of emission control systems in steel furnaces, steel re-rolling mills and all industries having boilers as per the notification DEA-I1/1-1/2019 (PGDP) (Vol-V) dated 31st March, 2023 of Industries, Commerce, Investment and Skills Development. The Squad 1 & 2 will operate along both side Ring Road from Manawan to Niazi Shaheed Chowk and Shahdra area while the rest of the area of Lahore will be monitored by Deputy Director (Env), Lahore. Assistant Director (Admn.), EPA Lahore will provide logistic support (Fuel and Vehicles etc.) to Squad 1 & 2. All squads shall submit their daily progress reports, to the in-charge Control Room who will manage documentation and brief for the higher authorities on a daily basis for seeking instructions / guidance.