KARACHI - The industrial associations’ chiefs have urged the Sindh chief minister to take immediate notice of what they called the widespread harassment to the industrialist by the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in the name of environment protection.

While addressing a joint press conference, the presidents and representatives of the associations, demanded the government to immediately withdraw the notices issued to a large number of industrialists failing which the industrialist shall be compelled to close industries which will lead to massive layoffs, unemployment and unrest.

They further demanded the Sindh CM to constitute Environment Protection Council with representation of all seven industrial associations. They expressed their concern that the Sindh government has taken no practical steps to establish combined effluent treatment plants for industries in all industrial areas of Karachi. They demanded the government to fulfill its promises of setting up five combined effluent treatment plants in the industrial zones of Karachi. They said that the Sindh government is generating huge revenue from the industries of Karachi; nevertheless, it appears that the industries of Karachi and Sindh have low priority for the government.

They stated that the Sindh Environment Protect Act was passed in 2014 but neither the council, chaired by the chief minister, under the law has notified nor rules and procedures have been approved by the government. In such circumstances, the notices by SEPA are one-sided and uncalled-for, they added.

While responding to questions, KATI President Masood Naqi said that all the seven industrial zones associations are on one-page against the notices issued to the industrialists by SEPA. He said that the industrialists are well-aware about the environment issues as they have to ensure conformance to the international standards for their exports. However, he stated that the government should not deviate from its promises and shift its responsibility over industrialists in respect to established of CETPs.

The representatives of the associations said that more than Rs25 billion are already available in the Export Development Fund while Sindh government is ready to finance 50 percent cost of the effluent treatment plants subject to provision of 50 percent funds from the federal government. On the other hand, the industries are ready to pay the operational cost of the plants. They demanded the prime minister to allocate funds for the CETP out of EDF. They said that it is a legal requirement to establish the Sindh Environmental Protection Council under the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014, which also made representation to industrialists in the council compulsory. This council will be the competent authority to work out environment protection standards in Sindh and take decisions for environment protection in the province.

The presidents and representatives of industrial association appealed to the Sindh governor and chief minister to take cognizance of the matter and accord immediate appointment to the representatives of the industrial association of Karachi. They also demanded for immediate withdrawal of SEPA notices and to speed up the work on the setting up of CETPs by the government of Sindh.