ISLAMABAD-Punjab Environmental Protection Department (EPD) Rawalpindi has no air quality monitors to gauge pollution in the garrison city of over 1.8 million population with increasing number of automobiles, urbanisation and settlements spoiling the ecology.

The twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad had shared ambiance that was found overwhelmingly filled with pollutants and dust.

The trans-boundary areas of Pirwadhai, sector I-10 and other areas had very bad air quality due to less tree cover, open garbage burning and vehicular emissions reaching at extreme level with every passing day.

The AirVisual data only reported air quality in Chaklala scheme-3 and Bahria Town phase-2 areas of Rawalpindi where US air quality index (AQI) at Chakalala Scheme-3 was 66 (19.3µg/m3 of particulate matter of 2.5 microns- PM2.5). Hence the air quality was moderate and in Bahria Town phase-2 the air quality was very unhealthy as PM2.5 was 202.7 microgrammes per meter cube (µg/m3) with 253 US AQI.

Moreover, Rawalpindi was also facing serious environmental risk due to plastic manufacturing units set up in residential areas that had been left unchecked by the EPD and the district administration.

“The plastic manufacturing units release hazardous emissions and nerve testing noise pollution making the ambiance unable to breath and survive when the plant goes functional,” said Taha Malik a resident of Mohallah Raja Sultan talking to APP.

He informed that his family and neighbours had been directly affected by an alleged plastic shoe recycling plant.

“The plant is working in the middle of the society at the back of Government Post Graduate College Asghar Mall Rawalpindi. It is operated in the morning and afternoon timings within a secret pattern.

The doors are locked outside to pretend it as an abandoned property where the machinery starts crushing the plastic shoes,” he added.

The unit, he said was a potential source of breeding dengue larvae which had not been inspected by the authorities.

He said, “The emissions of the plants are so pungent and suffocating that elderly, children and youngsters alike get problem in breathing. The crushing sound of the plant had made us sick as it has become unbearable to sit within the noise and ambient pollution together. It had made us mentally sick along with health complications.”

Subhan, another resident of the same vicinity said the plastic manufacturing unit had been operating for a long time where another unit of same category was also operating on the main street.

To a question, the area residents said no authorities had paid any visit to the area where the plants were functional on routine basis.