LAHORE      -     Minister for Environment Muhammad Rizwan has said that the government would introduce strict environmental rules and regulations for combating ever increasing pollution.

Addressing a press conference at Directorate General Public Relations on Monday, he attributed delay in interacting with media to lack of awareness about environmental issues. This was his first media interaction since assuming charge as minister in February 2019. “I feel that now I am in position to respond to media queries in better ways,” Rizwan said. He said that EPD had started a campaign against the polluting industries.

“This has been learnt that many industrial units are working in province in severe violation of environmental laws. Many of them obtained their no objections certificates (NOCs) on fake Environmental Impact Assessment reports,” he said and added that all such industrial units would be shut down as department has started investigations in this regard.

Rizwan informed that at least 75 anti-dengue squads of EPD were working round the clock for the last two months. “This is pleasure to inform that EPD teams efficiently performed their duties to fulfill the mandate they were given by other relevant departments,” he said and added that the number of anti-dengue squads had been increased from nine to 16 in Lahore, while the number of teams was doubled in Rawalpindi from 4 to 8.

According to minister, the upcoming challenge for EPD was to deal with the menace of smog. He said EPD has all set to control this very issue on the direction of Supreme Court of Pakistan. For the purpose, he said that EPA already had started its activities in which at least 1890 industrial units were served notices while over 130 brick kilns were sealed for polluting air.  “Construction of 166 brick kilns of old technology has been stopped while 213 other brick-kilns have been transferred to latest zig-zag technology.” He added that to sensitize the public, an awareness campaign had been started about possible threat of smog. To gauge the “smog level” in province, Rizwan said that special teams have been formed to control air pollution during winter season. However, he could not inform that what mechanism would be adopted by EPA teams to gauge or control the air pollution.  He informed that a ban has been imposed on burning of tyres, plastic polythene bags and crops’ residue.

The minister said that implementation on Punjab Green Development Program was underway in collaboration with the World Bank to improve environmental governance by promoting green investment.

 

 

 “30 new air quality monitoring stations will be established to gauge the air quality along with setting up 15 new stations to measure water pollution,” he concluded.