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Pollution taking its toll on Capital’s environment

ISLAMABAD: Federal Capital is becoming a health hazard with a number of environmental problems including air, traffic, and water pollution, solid waste dumps, and industrial nuisance while concerned authorities remain untouched.

Besides damaging public health, environmental pollution is also threatening the natural beauty of the city. The average temperature in the city is increasing each year. Hazardous smoke emitting from factories and brick kilns, solid waste dumps, polluted water and harmful effluent of the industries that is usually dumped underground are intensifying the problems citizens are faced with. Ministry of environment and Capital Development Authority (CDA) has yet not moved on the issue.

According to CDA statistics, 7,298 trees were uprooted for expansion of roads. The CDA officials claimed that they removed Paper Mulberry and Eucalyptus trees only, while other trees were being planted at alternate places.

The Industrial Area (sectors I-9 and I-10) was isolated from residential areas through a buffer zone but now residential areas have grown very close to it due to the buffer zone’s elimination by CDA. The Industrial Area, spread over 625 acres of land, was established in 1963 and provided scores of employment opportunities for people of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Steel melting units, re-rolling mills, flourmills, oil and ghee industries, marble cutting and polishing units, pharmaceutical firms, metalworking, and engineering units are some of the industries functioning in the Industrial Area.

According to sources in environment ministry, out of seven steel melting units, only a few managed to acquire anti-pollution equipment that too has now become partially non-operational due to lack of proper maintenance and other problems. The remaining units have been operating continuously without observing any safety measures to minimize the risk of air and water pollution. These units are producing metal dust, slag and gaseous emissions besides discharging untreated effluent in the main drain that eventually falls into River Soan.

Various surveys conducted previously by private and state-run agencies show that air and water pollution is increasing day by day, posing a grave threat to islooites. According to a report of Environmental Protection Agency, working under Ministry of Environment, there is more than 135 micro grams pollution per hectare causing particulate matter in twin cities, which should be 35 micro grams per hectare.

The untreated chemical effluents are released from marble industries that pollute the soil and ultimately percolate through it and enter into the groundwater. Thus it is making the drinking water health hazard for the public.

The significant health problems associated with pollution such as gastroenteritis, breathing problems, psychological disorders and other diseases are increasing day by day. The concentration of lead has increased in air, which is causing memory loss, hearing disorder and psychological problems. The affectees of the areas are demanding that government should introduce new and effective environmental policies in the country.

Member National Assembly Standing Committee on Environment Syed Alla-ud-Din claimed the issue had already discussed in a meeting of the Committee twice and the committee had directed all the concern quarters to take immediate action but to no avail. “When we insisted to the Ministry to take action and to release the funds for in order to stop environmental pollution the officials replied that they had no funds and they themselves were demanding funds from government”, claimed Alla-ud-din.

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