A hospital in Pakistan, ironically named after the founder of the nation, has been waging an apparently hopeless battle against a polluting chickenfeed factory. After a lot of dithering, now the authorities are telling the state High Court that would take some action.
The Jinnah Medical College Hospital has approached the Sindh high court for a direction to the environmental protection agency (EPA) to prosecute the factory under the Environmental Protection Act, 1997. The petitioner said it moved a complaint against M/s United Poultry Chickenfeed Factory located on plot number 9, sector 7, Korangi industrial area, Karachi, under the 1997 act.
According to the complaint, the feed manufacturing process and material generates obnoxious odour that is unbearable for hospital patients and employees. The emission of foul smell amounted to pollution under the law. It was a culpable offence punishable under the 1997 Act. No action was, however, taken on its complaint and the complainant had no option but to move the high court to seek a direction to the EPA to discharge its duty under the law.
The court summoned the EPA Director General to appear personally and explain why it was reluctant to perform its statutory function and investigate the complaint and prosecute the culprits if the allegation proved true. The Director General appeared in the court on Friday and informed a division bench comprising Justices Khilji Arif Hussain and Ghulam Dastgir A. Shahani that he had issued a notice to the factory on Sept 16 to make an explanation within 60 days as required by the 1997 Act. However, there was no response from the factory.
Assistant Advocate-General Adnan Karim Memon said the agency should have acted promptly to investigate what was clearly a case of pollution and public nuisance. The DG said there was sufficient material to refer the petitioner hospital's complaint to the environmental tribunal without further delay. The bench directed him to report compliance by Dec 23, when the petition would again come up for hearing.