PHC orders DG EPA, DC Kohat to appear today

Humayun Khan
PESHAWAR: A divisional bench comprising of Chief Justice Peshawar High Court (PHC) Justice Qaiser Rashid and Justice Ijaz Anwar ordered Director General Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kohat to appear today (on Thursday) Contempt of Court (COC) regarding environmental as well as health and damages of residential infrastructure caused by blasts and cement factories, on Wednesday.
During hearing counsel for petitioner Barrister Asad-ul-Mulk, Additional Advocate General Syed Sikandar Shah and Deputy Director Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mumtaz Ali appeared before court. Barrister Asad-ul-Mulk argued that applicant Zia Hafeez is resident of Kohat while several business activities are operating in the areas including mining and cement factories which is creating air pollution on one hand while on the other hand it has caused cracks in residential infrastructures.
However, Chief Justice PHC Justice Qaiser Rashid remarked that court should not allowed business activities in residential areas which creates problems for local populace and observed that court will initiate action against trade outlets playing with the health of the people. Chief Justice inquired from AAG regarding the situation while EPA deputy director informed that he personally visited the site but current COC didn’t lay in line with it.
In the meantime, Chief Justice directed Deputy Director EPA Mumtaz to visit the site today (on Wednesday) along Director General Mining and submit report in this regard because it is concerned with the health of people. The counsel further argued that the PHC had issued a judgment in 2017 directing Kohat Cement Factory to run its Electrostatic Precipitators Systems at 15 points at all times on all units but the directions had not been complied with till date.
Barrister Asad-ul-Mulk further submitted that owing to the discharge of excessive levels of fumes, dust and chemicals into the air, the residents of Kohat who live near the factory have become prey to deadly diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory illnesses. It was added that due to extensive blasting structural damage had also been caused to residential property in the locality.
The Chief Justice directed the EPA representative to forthwith undertake a visit along with Director General Mining of the factory and submit a report in this respect. He stated that the court took environmental matters seriously and the release of toxic chemicals was not only hazardous to human life but also to the flora and fauna of the region. The divisional bench comprising of Chief Justice PHC Justice Qaiser Rashid and Justice Ijaz Anwar ordered DG EPA along with DC Kohat to appear today (on Thursday) before court and explain the apparent dereliction.