ISLAMABAD, July 20: Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has served notices on five private housing societies located in the foot hills in sector E-11 for polluting fresh and rain water streams.

“These housing schemes are situated upstream and discharge their sewage into the fresh water brooks. Since all the streams snake through the capital, the stench is unbearable in most residential sectors,” said Director General Pak-EPA, Asif Shuja.

The notices were served on presidents and general secretaries of these private housing societies, which include the Federation of Employees Cooperative Housing Society, National Police Foundation, Services Cooperative Housing Society, Multi Professionals Cooperative Housing Society and the Pakistan Medical Cooperative Housing Society.

According to the DG, since their inception, Pak-EPA has been warning them of the environmental degradations caused by sewage being dumped into the streams.

“We have asked all the societies to install sewage treatment plants to prevent the streams from being polluted,” said the DG who warned of plugging all sewerage pipelines that ended in the streams.

Pak-EPA and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) in a joint effort plugged more than 400 sewerage pipes in and around Bari Imam that used to contaminate fresh water brooks that eventually flowed into the Rawal Lake. The residents then had to build their own septic tanks and soak pits.

“We did it before and we will not hesitate to take action against those causing pollution in streams,” Asif Shuja said.

The presidents and general secretaries of these housing societies had been committing themselves to install sewerage treatment plants (STPs) but never gave timeframe. According to Pak-EPA, the housing societies had been delaying the installation of the STPs.

Commenting on the problem of dumping sewage into streams and explaining how the civic authority had allocated land in sector E-11 a CDA official said, “These are private residential sectors. However, they do follow CDA by-laws related to layout plans, land use, roads and amenities, etc. But since these housing societies are registered with the Registrar Cooperative, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) CDA cannot take action against them. Only ICT could do whatever necessary to prevent them from polluting the streams.”

He also clarified how CDA did not deal directly with environmental degradation and that it fell under the purview of Pak-EPA.

According to Pak-EPA, the cases were to be referred to the environmental tribunal court which is at present non-functional.