ISLAMABAD-Environmental Protection Tribunal imposed Rs11 million worth of fines on 22 illegal marble factories in the federal capital’s Sector B-17 near Sangjani. Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (PAK-EPA) DG Farzana Altaf Shah said, “A resident lodged a complaint with the EPT maintaining that over a dozen of marble factories, approximately 22, had been operating in residential area falling under the Zone-II of Islamabad Capital Territory. However, proper legal notice has been issued to the marble factory owners (respondents in the case) but no positive reply has been received on their part.”

The complainant maintained that marble factories deal with cutting, polishing, curving, and grooving of marble stones resulting unbearable noise and dust. It was causing injurious to health for serious diseases like asthma, chest problem and other infectious lungs diseases as well as stress to the residents of the society, she added. “The complainants have also quoted the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 in their complaint and stressed upon the conservation, protection, rehabilitation and improvement of the Environment for the protection and control of pollution and promotion of sustainable development as well as noise and air pollution disturbing the ecology,” PAK-EPA DG said.

Shah informed that as per report of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) the marble factories’ owners were frequently issued notices to make safety measures regarding air and noise pollution, industrial waste and hazardous substances but no necessary actions were made on their part.

The marble units’ proprietors challenged the complainants with the objection in the Tribunal that the said factories had been set up in 1996-1997 with the approval of the local government. The industrial area was situated outside the Zone-II whereas the housing project or cooperative society was approved the establishment of marble factories, she added.

During the proceedings of the case before the tribunal, she said, “It has been observed that no record on behalf of the PAK-EPA and the respondents have been produced before the Tribunal regarding issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Agency neither is any environmental approval on record nor the respondents produced any material document which shows that they have applied for Initial Environment Examination and Environmental Impact Assessment (IEE and EIA).”

PAK-EPA DG noted that the Marble Factories were held responsible for continuous violation of the relevant provision of Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997 where each of the respondent was imposed penalty of Rs 5,00,000 fine to be paid by each of the perpetrators.

“The Marble Factories’ owners have been directed to ensure the working timings from 08:00 AM to 05:00PM to avoid the noise pollution for the surrounding residence.

They are also made bound to ensure the proper waste water system for each unit and make arrangements for shifting their marble units to the designated industrial area,” she mentioned the punishments imposed by the tribunal.

The respondents, however, were also bound for submitting a plan to PAK-EPA DG for rectification of installation of proper air and noise pollution system as advised by National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS) within 60 days.

Moreover, the tribunal had given instructions to the Marble Factories’ owners to submit a report to PAK-EPA DG within 60 days.

To a question, Farzana Altaf Shah said that any violator of environmental laws and regulations other than fine could be sent behind the bars for two years imprisonment as per provisions in the law.