Altaf Hamid Rao.
MIRPUR (AJK): (Parliament Times) Azad Jammu & Kashmir Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wednesday served Environmental Protraction Notice to the Mirpur Division Highways Authorities with a stern advice to take immediate action to comply with the due corrective measures within given time frame, it was officially said.
Disclosing this Divisional Chief of the EPA Sardar Idrees Muhamud told our Special AJK Correspondent Altaf Hamid Rao here on Wednesday that the notice have been issued to Executive Engineer Highways Division Mirpur under Sub-Section (f) of Section 7 of AJK-Environmental Protection Act, 2000 on the charges of committing serious breach of Environmental Protection Law in terms of Section 10 &11(1) of Environmental Protection Act, 2000; reads with Regulation 3,4, 13 &14 of IEE / EIA Regulations 2009.
“Failure to comply with this notice on the part of the recipient, will be an offence, cognizable under Section 18 of Act ibid”, Idrees said.
The EPA Mirpur Division Chief continued that the notice was issued to the Exn Highway division Mirpur AJK, under Section 15(1) of Environmental Protection Act, 2000, after the Environmental Protection Agency found that the PWD-Highways Division Mirpur had awarded contracts to private contractors for the construction of three of the major roads of Mirpur without Environmental clearance including 3.00 km long Mujhaid Town to Valley Homes, 2.5 Km long Akbar Road from Kalyal to Purani Hattian and 3.00 km long Haul Road from Quaid-e- Azam Cricket Stadium to Chongi F/3 sector.
Idrees Mahmood underlined that the PWD-Highways division Mirpur awarded the contract without complying with the provision of Section 11 (1) of theEnvironmental Protection Act, 2000 which reads as “No proponent of a project shall commence construction or operation unless he has filed with the Agency, an initial environmental examination (IEE) or where the project is likely to cause an adverse environmental effect, an Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) and has obtained from the Agency approval in respect thereof”.
The Div. Director EPA said that through onsite verification by EPA monitoring team under public complaint No.3353, dated: 21stSeptember,2020 it was found that during construction work on Mujhaid Town, Haul & Akbar road; all excavated spoil was dumped across both side of the road. Besides, construction material like sand, gravel and crush aggregate was also dumped on road sides instead of dumping at appropriate / designated sites. This, the notice underlined, not only narrowing the road but also causing the traffic blockade for hours and hours.
Div. Director EPA said that in order to ensure the sustainability and environment friendly construction on any project; crosswise in urban area, trafficmanagement plan was mandatory and outlined well before the commencement for smooth flow of all kind of traffic; but neither traffic management plan prepared nor implementing at any of the above said project to control the sprints that makes environmental /Social nuisance for local passengers/travelers, transport goods and pedestrians, he added.
Sardar Idress further said that corpus dust emission also observed during construction hours at all construction sites. Water showering is not done to suppress the dust during construction and continuous dust emission has engulfed whole area that not only seriously deteriorating the air quality of the area but also putting adverse impact on the heath of the local residents and travelers.
He said that prima facie it has been established that the PWD-Highways Division, Mirpur was committing serious breach of Environmental Protection Law interms of Section 10 &11(1)of Environmental Protection Act, 2000; reads with Regulation 3,4, 13 &14 of IEE/EIA Regulations 2009.
The Divisional Chief of EPA said that Director General AJK-EPA has taken serious notice on above stated environmental degradation and directed to take following corrective measure forthwith to ensure the sustainable and environment friendly development;-
Ø The Department must Develop the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) along with detailed Health and Safety (H&S) and Traffic Management Plan within 15 days from the date of issuance of this notice and submit to EPA for review and further process of environmental clearance against above said project;
Ø The Department take immediate action to remove/lift all excavated material that is dumped along the road side and dispose it at appropriate locations/sites and the disposal sites must be selected in consultation with Municipal and other relevant Authorities.
Ø The Highways Division instantly direct all contractor to Designated the separate Stockpile area for the dumping of construction material at all project sites. Instead of dumping the construction material on road side; pile the material at designated sites.
Ø To suppress the dust, the contractors may be advisedimmediately to ensure 4-time water showering at all construction sitesduring working hours. Besides, all contractors also be directed to provide thePersonal Protective Equipment (PPEs) like safety boats, gloves, helmets, air plugs and goggles to all work force at all construction site to avoid injuries and health risks amongst entire workforce.
Ø The contractor also be advised to not cut the planted trees at all sites, if unavoidable then plant the tress 1x 10 cut ratio.
Ø The PWD- Highways Division must Depute the full time monitoring / compliance officers on urgent basis at all project sites to monitor the construction activities and to ensure the environmental and social compliances.
“Copy of the notice was also circulated to the Director General, AJK-EPA, Go AJK, besides other related state functionaries including Chief Engineer, Highways South, Muzaffarabad, Superintendent Engineer Highways, Mirpur, Commissioner Mirpur Division, Deputy Commissioner, Mirpur. For appropriate action on compliance and the Mirpur SSP for Appropriate measure in designing the traffic Management Plan”, he concluded.