ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed Pak-EPA to take prompt action against housing societies and poultry farms responsible for releasing wastage and garbage into Rawal Dam—a main source of water for the twin cities.
The court issued notices to all housing societies to submit their replies in written and explain their stance on the matter by Friday.
A three-member judge bench headed by Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry also directed the officials of CDA, ICT, RDA, Pak-EPA, TMA Murree to convene an emergency meeting with Secretary Cabinet Division Abdur Rauf Chaudhry to discuss the issue.
The apex court took a suo moto action on an application seeking the court’s directions on pollution of water in Rawal Dam. The application was forwarded by ordinary citizens who complained of poultry farms and housing societies discarding their wastage and garbage into the dam’s water.
During the course of hearing, Director General Pak-EPA (Punjab) Dr Shugafta Shah Jahan informed the court that some 29 poultry farms were located near Rawal Lake, covering a distance of around 8km. But she refuted the claim that these farms were polluting the water.
However, she put the blame on more than one hundred housing societies located near the beds of Rawal Dam, adding that they were putting their wastage material into Rawal Lake and had been poisoning the water for many years.
Director General Pak-EPA Asif Shujja Khan also supported the argument and said that despite issuance of an order by the Ministry of Environment, the societies were continuing to pollute the water.
Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday asked the top officials of Pak-EPA to visit the Rawal Dam personally and observe that the court’s order is being followed by the housing societies as well as the poultry farms.
Moreover, the court also observed that the authorities concerned—ICT, CDA, RDA, Pak-EPA, WASA and TMA Murree– were not cooperating with one another to solve the issue of water poisoning.
“It seems as if the city managers are reluctant to extend the possible coordination to overcome the serious issue of water pollution, thereby putting the lives of thousands of people into danger,” the three-member bench observed.
Showing concern over negligience on the issue, the chief justice said that according to the Environment Protection Act 1997, there should be no reason for Pak-EPA to abstain from stopping the housing societies and poultry farms from discarding their wastage into the dam.
The Managing Director WASA Chaudhry Saeed informed the court that the authority had installed a water plant for purification, but the wastage was too much to manage.
On this, the chief justice remarked that there would be no need to install water purification plants if appropriate action was taken against the polluters. After directions of the court to conduct a meeting of all concerned quarters for reaching a solution on the matter, the chief justice adjourned the hearing till Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2010.