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03. July 2008

Pakistan - 700 industrial steel units issued warnings

LAHORE - ENVIRONMENT Protection Department (EPD) has started issuing warnings to more than 700 industrial units including a major chunk of steel related industries causing serious environmental hazards especially noise and air pollution in various localities of Northern Lahore.

Light and heavy steel industry is developed in northern localities such as Misri Shah, Baghbanpura, Moghalpura, Daroghewala, Bhagat Pura, Chah Miran Shadbagh and other localities along the Bund Road and GT Road. These industries included Steel Foundries, Steel Re-rolling Mills, Steel Furnaces and Scrap Yards. All of these industries are spreading different types of pollutions especially air, noise, vibration and heat.

Besides the residential areas, a good number of steel mills are also operating around the historical monuments i.e. Shalimar Garden, Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque and the environment department of CDGL had already served notices to some 48 such mills but the danger is still there.

Majority of these industries are using used tyres and sub standard rubber products to keep their furnaces alive, said a senior official of EPD while talking to The News. He said air pollution is the key environmental issue of the steel industry which the residents are facing. The major source of air pollution is the furnace, which releases pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides and toxic metals.

The principle air pollutant in the smoke is Particulate Matter (PM) that includes toxic metal dusts and fumes of lead, chromium, cadmium and zinc, said Dr Nusrat Hashmi. These uncontrolled emissions are resulting in deterioration of air quality, he said adding that the air pollutants restrict photosynthesis, increase respiratory infections, birth defects, acid rains, and lung damage. He said lead and cadmium are also present in the fumes released by furnaces that cause collapse of central nervous system and degeneration of joints, lung and kidney diseases respectively.

On the other hand, hundred of thousands of resident of North Lahore are facing this threat directly or indirectly and were approaching different forums to get a relief. They said different types of diseases are spreading in the localities amongst which asthma and skin diseases are on top.

Sources in EPD said as per Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997 all industrial units i.e. cottage or large are supposed to obtain NOC from Environmental Protection Department (EPD) but over 90 per cent industrial units are operating with out fulfilling this legal formality. Secretary Environment when contacted revealed that the department has already started a detailed survey in North Lahore to access the situation. He said the department approved serving EPOs for personnel hearing to 15 steel mills namely New Shalimar Steel Mills, Khalid Asif Steel Mills, Gujjar Steel Mills, Khalid Siddique Steel Mills, Akram Steel Mills (I), Pervaiz Akhtar Steel Mills, Akram Steel Mills (II), Shahbaz Steel Mills, Tariq & Sons Steel Mills, Zafar Steel Mills, Nazir Jogar Steel Mills, Jabbar Steel Mills, Batiala Steel Mills, AF Steel Mills and Bismillah Steel Mills.

He said the government’s first priority is to shift these industrial units and in case of failure the department will ensure that the concerned industry should take measures to prevent pollution.

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