Sindh is a resources rich and highly industrialized province of South Asian country Pakistan.
It has population of over 65 million with broad cultural diversity where more than 60 per cent people live in rural areas directly or indirectly associated with agriculture economy.
The rest of 40 per cent population lives in urban areas out of it more than 30 per cent in seventh biggest city of the world Karachi.
Recently higher courts of Sindh ordered its environmental watchdog the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to take strict action against all those industries that are directly releasing their effluent and wastewater into water bodies including Arabian Sea and Indus River.
Obeying the court orders SEPA launched a massive drive against all polluting industries and issued notices to nearly 300 industries of Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas and Sukkur that were found openly violating the provincial environmental law.
In a follow up action tens of industries were sealed on their non-compliance of local environmental standards.
Polluting industries threaten strike
Action of SEPA against polluters was welcomed by environmental lovers but industrialists took it with great concern. They say they are already facing a lot of problems including energy crisis and law and order as top of the list. Therefore if they were forced to abide by environmental laws by hook or crook they won’t have any choice but to shut down leaving thousands of workers jobless.
The defended their act of violating environmental laws on the plea that they don’t have space within their factories to install individual effluent and wastewater treatment plant. Therefore, they proposed, government should install a combined effluent treatment plant to stop release of effluent into the water bodies.
Polluters united against green drive
To face the odds all the industrial associations of Sindh province created a special purpose alliance to stand against the drive of SEPA against them and threatened to lock their factories if action against them was not stopped.
Government in dilemma
Government of Sindh is in dilemma on what to do. Either to support the factories – that contribute enormously into provincial exchequer with their taxes – by promising to install a combined effluent treatment plant. Or stand with court orders and let SEPA continue its drive against polluting industries.
If it supports industries it will be like going against court orders and also will halt the process of making industries comply the environmental laws.
If government stands with court orders then it is likely industrial production may slow down as many – if not all – may stop their manufacturing operations to avoid legal action of SEPA.
In both the situations government is not comfortable because it wants court orders may be fully obeyed and industrial process should also be continued with same pace.
Options for SEPA
Environmentalists are of the view that the job of SEPA is to protect environment and don’t get into confusing option of combined versus individual treatment plant.
In provincial environmental law it is nowhere mentioned how industries should treat their effluent before releasing it into water bodies. It just asks for treating it in any way to save our water bodies from pollution load.
It is widely expected that matter will remain in logjam and after sometime government or court will face another important issue to resolve and factories of Sindh will continue to pollute the waters. After that SEPA will continue taking routine regulatory actions to please everyone by showing that a lot is being done for protection of local environment.
Environment to suffer
Let’s see how things settle but it is clear that if this issue is shelved once again then our water bodies continue to receive untreated wastewater and be more polluted resulting in disaster to marine life and to water eco system.
Being environmental lovers it is our duty to force all the stakeholders of this issue to think of our environment also so that in the long run industrial process may continue and government may also not face any environmental disaster.
Raise your voice
So please comment below to share your opinion suggesting what industries and government should do to adopt a way that is most fit for all parties.
Every problem has a solution just will is required to figure it out. It could be done if all the parties also be sincere to their environment as they are sincere to their own interests.