Environment tribunal issues warrant against company owner

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Apr 12, 2013.

Islamabad – The Punjab Environmental Tribunal on Thursday issued bailable arrest warrants to the owner of one Rawalpindi company and deferred judgment on another company that has adopted precautionary measures since environmental action against it.

The three-member tribunal, headed by Chairman Abdul Rasheed, heard 66 cases on the first day of its two-day proceedings.

A majority of the cases — 74 per cent —- were against stone crushers but Rawalpindi District Environment Office (DEO) also brough  poultry farms, medical centre, a plywood company, a cereal-manufacturing plant and a medical centre to the tribunal.

The tribunal issued a bailable arrest warrant for the owner of Capital Plywood Industries — a plywood company on Kallar Syedan road in Rawalpindi — after the owner failed to appear at the proceedings. The plywood company is facing charges of dust pollution.

In another case, the tribunal deferred the judgment of the case against Fauji Cereals, a project of the Fauji Foundation, on Dhamial Road until Friday.

The cereal manufacturing company was served an Environment Protection Order (EPO) because of air and water pollution, a DEO field officer told The Express Tribune, on the condition of anonymity.

The officer said Fauji Cereals had made improvements in their waster disposal since the interventions. The company has constructed an underground storage for solid waste to prevent stench and it has contracted a recycling plant for its waste disposal instead of burning the trash in the open.

Just like the tribunal previous hearing in February, stone crushing units in the Margalla Hills were again the mainstay of the proceedings.

In the tribunal’s February proceedings, six stone crushers were fined Rs30,000 each. The crushers were given a two-month deadline to come into compliance with Section 12 of the Punjab Environment Protection Act 2012.

The section requires a project’s owners to obtain a No Objections Certificate (NOC) from the Punjab Environment Protection Agency by submitting an initial environmental examination or an environmental impact assessment report. The stone crushers have already submitted the fines but they have two weeks to get the NOC before a daily Rs1,500 sets in.

Most of the stone crusher cases on Thursday were either deferred till Friday or given next hearing dates for May or June.

On Friday, the tribunal will hear a case against Khawaja Stone Crusher, which happens to be the first crusher that has experimented with a dust suppressions system.

If the tribunal accepts the solution installed by Khawaja, it would set a precedent for the other stone crushing units, the DEO field officer said.

The DEO is focusing exclusively on controlling air quality degradation but the stone crushing units are also destroying natural habitats and forests in the Margalla Hills National Park. Over a hundred stone crushers operate on the Hills near Taxila and another 16 operate in the Islamabad Capital Territory part of the Park in gross violation of the national parks act.

The Punjab Environmental Tribunal includes member (general) Ubaid Rabbani and member (technical) Anwar Rasheed Saleemi.

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