Reports in the Pakistan Daily Times point to multiple sources of what they call toxic and dark smoke coming from factories around the Lahore ring road.
Questions about Pollution Control
According to the report, these are illegal pyrolysis plants extracting oil from tyres illegally with the “connivance” of some officials of the Punjab Environmental Protection Agency.
Such plants are said to have become a major reason of air pollution in Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan, Faisalabad and other districts of the province. However, the majority of the plants are operating in Lahore and Gujranwala divisions.
Experts and medics have raised concerns over the issue, warning that burning tyres and plastic material release tremendous amounts of pollutants and residue that settle deep in the human lungs. Many studies have also highlighted the rising number of patients with lung and respiratory diseases in Lahore and other cities of the province.
Lahore has become one of the most polluted cities in the world, despite authorities taking stern action against polluters and closing many air polluting units including brick kilns, steel mills and pyrolysis plants. According to EPA officials most of the brick kiln and steel mills have updated their systems according to the guidelines of EPA and PDMA.
However, a spokesman who wished to remain anonymous told the Daily Times; “Pyrolysis plants were sealed and their Site Inspection Reports (SIRs) were submitted by the relevant District Officers (DOs) Environment to headquarters,” but the official revealed that these plants’ owners in violation of the law, restarted work after breaking seals. The official said that pyrolysis plants owners are criminals that are deep rooted in EPA and other relevant departments.
These illegally operating pyrolysis plants not only extract furnace and crude oil but also extract wire and carbon ash from used tyres and sell them in market at low prices. Reportedly these plants extract over 100,000 litres of oil daily and in this process hundreds of tons of carbon particles are released into the air.
A few months ago, the Punjab Environmental Tribunal (PET) heard a case in this regard, in which the EPA was ordered to make and submit an analysis report of such pyrolysis plants. A few plants were allowed to operate for the specific period till the completion of their monitoring. Interestingly, all those plants are operating continuously despite their air quality monitoring.
When contacted, an EPA official, who performed the monitoring tests of such plants, said that test reports of such plants have not been prepared yet. When asked as to why these plants have been operating despite the lack of completion of their monitoring? The officer said that it was EPA’s former DG who had directed these plants to be functional.
Sources claim that all the pyrolysis plant owners want their businesses to be regulated. Accordingly, at least 23 owners have filed petitions with the Environmental Tribunal through an advocate. They also said that the advocate is also an environmental consultant, and these 23 plants’ owners are his clients who have hired the advocate against a huge fee of Rs.2.5 million for each case.
The spokesperson said that pyrolysis plants were working illegally and EPA should never let any polluter to work in the province. Without naming any official, the spokesperson said that there were a few “black sheep” in the agency who were helping the polluters.
Source: Pakistan Daily Times