DERA GHAZI KHAN-With the connivance of corrupt officials and influential people, 122 illegal stone-crushing units here cause serious threats to the public health and environment.

The Nation has already pointed out in various reports that corrupt officials of various departments with connivance of influential people were patronising the illegally installed stone-crushing plants which cause serious threats to public health and environment. However, the officials have turned a blind eye to the illegal stone crushing at the 122 plants located at Sakhi Sarwar and eight gypsum crushing plants located at Taunsa Sharif.

Many reports of Environment Protection Agency Dera Ghazi Khan have also revealed that those stone-crushing units without boundary walls in Sakhi Sarwar had been installed to crush big stones into different grade small stones. The crushed stones are separated and stored near the crushing machines via conveyer belts for sale. About 10 persons do the work in a unit as labourers in different shifts.

As per the EPA report, one of plants namely M/S Allah Wasaya and Hussain Stone Crusher Plant near Sakhi Sarwar Quetta Road crushes stones dry; therefore air pollution in the form of dust is produced from the process. The dust pollutes the environment in the area with the blow of wind; no mitigation measures are adopted to control air pollution.

Health and precautionary measures like masks, boots, helmets, gloves and safety dress etc are not seen in the plant. So the labourers at the plants, other people and environment around the plant are exposed to pollution that may cause different diseases like silicosis, cough, and respiratory tract diseases, irritations to nose, eyes and skin.

However, Deputy Commissioner Ibrahim Junaid has directed Deputy Director Environment DG Khan to prepare a comprehensive report within a week regarding the stone-crushing units which are causing adverse environmental effects in the district.

The DC also directed District Officer Labour to ensure the health safety of workers of stone-crushing plants and action be taken against plants owners break the labour law.

Deputy Director (DD) Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Naseemul Hassan, Deputy Director (DD) Mines & Mineral Tanveer Ahmed Leghari, Additional Deputy commissioners Muhammad Iqbal Mazher and Ghulam Yaseen, Assistant commissioner Shahid Abbas and other officers were present there.

DD EPA Naseem briefed the participants that there are 122 stone crushing units in mountainous town Sakhi Sarwar 35 km away from here city, which cause serious threats to public health and environment. Only ten owners of plants have applied for NOC while five out of them have been issued NOCs.

He said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued directives to National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) that for supply of electricity connections to stone crushing plants, an NOC from Environment Protection Department, Mines & Minerals Department, Industries Department and other local bodies Departments is necessary. Without the NOC, power distribution companies could not supply power connections to those plants while in district DG Khan, stone crushing units have been provided with electricity power connections which is against the law.