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Hospitals, industries violating environmental laws

Hospitals, industries violating environmental laws

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan told the Senate on Thursday that both hospitals and industries were violating environmental laws on the safe disposal of hazardous waste.

The minister was responding to a question from PML-N lawmaker Ayesha Razaq Farooq on measures taken by the government to ensure proper disposal of hazardous and hospital waste.

“There are gaps as far as compliance is concerned both by hospitals and industries. Pak-Epa is taking cognizance of such violations and pursuing legal action against the alleged violators in the environmental protection Tribunal,” the minister added.

Under the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997, the safe disposal of hazardous waste from hospitals and industries in the Islamabad capital territory falls under the domain of the Pakistan Environment Protection Agency (Pak-Epa).

In its recent surveys, Pak-Epa found more than 60 small and big hospitals dumping and mixing hazardous material such as blood and human body parts and tissues from surgery rooms with municipal waste.

In its ongoing survey of private clinics and labs, the agency also found all these health facilities in violation of the environmental regulations by mixing their waste with municipal garbage.

While Epa has failed to tackle the problem of emissions from industries such as steel mills and marble factories, it has forwarded cases of three steel mill owners to the environment protection tribunal.

Director General Pak-Epa Dr Mohammad Khurshid told Dawn earlier how he was pessimistic about any positive outcome from the environmental tribunals.

He has been arguing for amendments to the rules for on the spot fines and arrests to ensure the residents of Islamabad breathed clean air.

However, the minister explained how Pak-Epa had taken steps for regulating proper disposal of hazardous waste of hospitals and industries.

The minister said: “Under the Hospital Waste Management Rules 2005, the health facilities and industries are bound to dispose of hazardous waste as per prescribed procedure.”

Apart from this, surveys and monitoring of hospitals and industries were being undertaken on a regular basis.

He said since there were inadequate facilities for safe disposal of hazardous waste in the capital, efforts were underway to establish centralised facilities for the safe disposal of harmful waste.

In this regard, Pak-Epa is coordinating with a German company to secure financial support for the establishment of a centralised hospital and hazardous waste disposal facility.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2015

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