LAHORE: With an aim to reduce environmental pollution, the Punjab government has decided to launch a four-year programme to convert brick kilns to ZigZag technology.
The programme will be launched under Punjab’s Industries, Commerce & Investment Department (ICID) at a cost of Rs200 million while training on the use of ZigZag technology will also be imparted under the programme.
In a meeting of the Smog Committee held on Thursday, secretaries of Punjab environment, industries, transport and additional inspector general (operations) were briefed that 2,210 industrial units have been monitored so far out of which 36 unhealthy smoke emitting units have been shut down.
During the briefing, the officials said that First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered against 29 units for increasing environmental pollution while 195 cases have been filed in the Environmental Tribunal. Furthermore, 692 brick kilns have been brought on ZigZag technology while 111 are being converted now.
Moreover, 32,158 vehicles emitting unhealthy smoke have been checked while fines of Rs61.4 million and 11877 challans have also been issued to control environmental pollution.
The meeting of Smog Committee was chaired by the Provincial Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, while Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Khan, Provincial Minister for Environment Bao Muhammad Rizwan, Minister for Industries and Investment Mian Aslam Iqbal and head of Chief Minister Special Monitoring Unit Fazil Asif were also present at the meeting.
Punjab Finance Minister directed the Secretary Industries to make a comprehensive plan for the transfer of all remaining kilns to ZigZag technology. “The Punjab government is ready to finance the transfer of kilns to the state-of-the-art technology to deal with smog problems. Kiln owners should ensure timely transfer of kilns to Zigzag technology. Accelerate the process of installation of scrubs in factories. A public awareness campaign should be launched to prevent public and private sector vehicles from emitting smoke on the roads. Vehicle owners should inspect vehicles and ensure fitness to avoid the hassle of challans and closures so that smog Ensure pre-season safety measures. The transport department should also develop mechanisms for the fitness of private-sector vehicles along with the public sector. Private-sector services should also be utilized to meet the shortage of buses in Lahore. Special incentives should be offered to the private sector to bring buses developed on environmentally friendly technology. All departments should ensure effective utilization of funds provided for control of environmental pollution under the Green Punjab Program.”
The meeting also decided to form a working group headed by the relief commissioner for immediate actions during the smog season. The minister added that keeping in view the performance of Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) for locust, cove and flood control, the services of authority for smog control and protection would also be sought so that all operations would be coordinated. “Industries and transport departments will ensure long term control of smog while traffic police and PDMA will ensure immediate action,” he said.
Provincial Minister for Environment Malik Amin Akhtar directed the relevant department to focus on controlling other causes of environmental pollution instead of focusing on brick kilns. “In other countries, to control pollution, as the age of vehicles increases, the tax levied on them is also increased, while in our country, lifetime tokens are given. It is important to develop a strategy for the fitness of used vehicles. The closure of the brick kilns will not have as much of a positive impact on the environment as it will on the lives of workers and kiln owners. The most dangerous and unhealthy smoke comes from waste burning, which affects the mental health of children in particular, so it is important to control it.” Malik also demanded the immediate closure of factories using rubber tires as fuel.