Do you know it is a common opinion that to control factory pollution in any poor or less developed country including Pakistan is next to impossible?
In most of the poor and backward countries lack of environmental awareness and weak enforcement of green laws are the two main reasons that most of the pollution problems are standing still there and even in most of the cases are rising day by day.
In advance countries most of the factories follow their environmental law and try to avoid doing any kind of pollution because they are environmentally responsible businesses. But this is not the only reason and there is another bigger reason.
The mechanism to enforce green laws is quite strong there. If any factory pollutes, it has to face the legal action very efficiently and timely taken by its environmental protection agency.
Admitted that in all the advance countries is not that much ideal situation in terms of pollution control but still things are not bad there and most of the people know why it is must to control pollution and keep the environment safe for their health and well-being.
But in poor countries including Pakistan things are quite disappointing and one fails to understand why such a mess is prevailing in every sector there.
In such countries rule of law is nowhere and if there is any rule of law it is for weaker segment of a society. Obviously factory owners are not weaker in any country they earn in millions and have a very resourceful life to easily make contacts with powerful people. So they can escape from any kind of law that’s violation does not have any immediate and loud public reaction.
Let’s come to our topic why I am suggesting here a surefire way to control factory pollution in Pakistan. Actually in all the poor countries their EPAs have almost compromised on this issue because of several technical problems to do this task.
Main types of factory pollution
Before going into details let’s fist discuss the three major types of factory pollution. Factories usually create:
- Air pollution by emitting smoke from their chimney and it can be controlled by properly maintaining the machines to release the emissions minimum and to install a stack on chimney to mitigate the harmful effects before releasing it into the air.
- Solid waste included the hazardous waste that can be disposed of by incineration and if a factory does not have this facility it can hire an incineration service to mitigate the hazardous impacts of its waste before throwing it into nearby waste collection point. While a factory can easily dispose of its harmless solid waste by handling it just like domestic waste and put it into a designated site for the civic agency to lift it to any landfill site.
- Industrial wastewater or effluent that is actually the main type of factory pollution and it is the topic of this post. Under environmental law of any country including Pakistan no factory can release its wastewater or effluent anywhere before treating it scientifically. For this purpose it has to install a wastewater treatment plant to abide by the concerned order of its environmental law.
Why factories in Pakistan can’t install a treatment plant?
Treatment plan is a huge technology that needs a handsome amount up to millions of dollars depending upon the quantity of wastewater a factory generates daily. Also a spacious space is required to install it because obviously a factory has to build it within its premises.
But most of the factories have a sound reason for not installing a treatment plant to treat the wastewater before releasing it.
They say they don’t have open space within their premises for this purpose. They also argue that at the time of their establishment that occurred decades ago there was not that much strict enforcement of green laws as it is presently. Nor anyone restricted them at that time to reserve a space within their factory premises to build a treatment plant in future when green laws would be strictly enforced.
As a result they have covered all their open area with different manufacturing and processing setups and now even they can’t buy extra space in neighborhood because everywhere around factories are working leaving no space open for purchase.
Combined effluent treatment plant
In view of this situation the government of one of the provinces of Pakistan that is called Sindh once initiated the idea of installing a combined effluent treatment plant in one of its big industrial area called Kotri near Hyderabad.
But it also miserably failed because those who installed it were from government sector that is infested with rampant corruption. So the government officials responsible to build it instead of putting the money into it to make it of high quality ate most of the money and put very low quality material into it. As a result it’s non-functioning till the uploading of this post though it was started in 2010 some five years ago.
A combined effluent treatment plant of similar type was also installed in a cluster of tanneries in Korangi Industrial Area Karachi by their association to offer treatment service on payment of not so high fee. That is also lame in functioning and most of the tanneries don’t pay service charges to meet is operating cost. That is why it works but not regularly and offers service if it has money to pay the fuel and other type of expenses.
In short the experiment of building and running a combined effluent treatment plan to serve the treatment needs of the factories miserably failed in the past either it was done purely by government as noted above or done by community participation as in case of tanneries experience above.
Why it is difficult to control industrial pollution in Pakistan?
- It is must to treat factories’ effluent or industrial wastewater before releasing it into any nearby water body be it sea, ocean, river or stream
- Factories don’t have open space to install their own individual treatment plant to treat the wastewater they generate
- The experiment of combined effluent treatment plant was miserably failed in past either it was established by the government or by the industrial association (as in case of tanneries plant).
As a result up till now 90 per cent of the factories in Pakistan that generate wastewater are releasing it directly into different water bodies including Arabian sea, nearby rivers and canals since their inception.
According to a rough estimate there are nearly 10,000 factories situation all over Pakistan that generate wastewater and almost 9000 of them are releasing wastewater directly into any nearby water body.
For example wastewater generated by the factories situated in Korangi Industrial Area through Malir river and wastewater of Site Industrial Area Karachi through Lyari river is directly released into the Arabian sea.
It is not being done for a few months or for a few years. It has been going on since Pakistan came into being some 67 years ago. At that time factories in Pakistan were in hundreds but now they have multiplied into thousands to serve various needs of its rapidly increasing population.
At present government is at logjam to control factory pollution in Pakistan. It already has a massively unaware population in terms of environmental care and also its enforcement mechanism to put green laws into practice is quite weak because of lack of good governance and rampant corruption in its rank and file.
But the bigger challenge it is facing nowadays is how to control factory pollution in Pakistan since there is no viable way to come out of this logjam.
The only option to control factory pollution in Pakistan
Don’t worry I shared this whole background about no control on industrial pollution in Pakistan to show you the complete picture of the gloomy industrial environment of this country. Now I would suggest the only way that is surefire also to control this menace and take the government and factories out from this logjam to make them environmentally responsible entities.
Wastewater Treatment Authority
The way is to build a wastewater treatment authority.
Yes a fully fledge department not under the control of government but purely on self-sufficient basis. Its staff must be hired from the market purely on merit and a big chunk of funds be granted to it to initially build combined effluent treatment plants in main industrial areas of Pakistan.
After that it simply has to bind each factory to get its wastewater treated before releasing it into anywhere. It should be built in a way to connect each factory of the area with distributaries and canals to get its wastewater smoothly for treating it and onward releasing it into a nearby water body.
You may think it may also fail as it already happened in case of two examples I noted above. Don’t worry it will not fail because in this case the manager and handlers of the plant would be hired on merit and they will run the whole system quite efficiently. They will promptly forward the case for legal action of a factory for not getting the treatment facility and is directly releasing its wastewater.
In a stricter sense the proposed authority may also be authorized by the government to impose a pollution tax on each factory to cover the operation and maintenance cost of the treatment plant and also the cost of all the operations of the authority.
What do you think? How is my proposal to control factory pollution in Pakistan? Do you agree with my suggestion? Share your views in comments section below.