1,091 illegal marble factories operating at KP
PESHAWAR: At least 1091 illegal marble factories operate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa without obtaining CA from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while 133 factories have CA from the environment agency.
Illegal factories are the source of air, water and noise pollution in the province. Factory waste has destroyed the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of farmers because illegal factories cause irreparable damage to fertile farmland. Heavy metals were also found in the blood of factory workers during research. The enormous marble dust and noise lead to long term health risks such as respiratory (breathing or lung) diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and lung cancer.
According to EPA data, there are 197 marble factories in Peshawar and only one factory has received formal approval while the rest are operating illegally. About 205 illegal factories are operating in Mardan without any NOCs, and no factories have completed EPA formalities. Khyber district has 200 factories, Charsadda 64, Nowshera 80 and Swabi 12.
However, all of them operate illegally. At least 85 marble factories operate in the Hazara division, but none have EPA CAs. At least 30 factories in the Malakand division are operating illegally without any NOCs. There are 375 factories in Malakand Division of which 243 are illegal while only 132 have NOCs. Likewise, six factories are operating illegally in DI Khan.
EPA Director General Shafiullah told this scribe that marble units are regulated under Articles 11 and 13 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Environmental Protection Act 2014.
Marble factories are a direct source of water, air and noise pollution. The EPA regularly monitors marble units and regulates them according to law. About 205 marble units were monitored and 149 cases against the owner were pursued in the Environmental Protection Tribunal (EPT), Peshawar.
“The mushroom growth of the marble factories on Warsak Road, Peshawar, is without EPA approval due to the ambiguity of the legal framework which has now been lifted in the recently notified 2021 EA Rules. . Currently, the agency is assisting the Peshawar High Court and Environmental Protection Tribunal in marble-related cases and the position of the EPA is to implement the provision of the relevant law in the letter and l ‘spirit,’ he said, adding that legal action is underway to bring the dangerous and illegally operated units under the environment. amicable legal regime. A sample was taken from the M / S Junidia Marble Factory and three tests including TSS, TDS and COD were performed. About 2500 TSS parameters were found with a limit of only 200. The other two tests were found to be normal. Likewise, Ghani Marble’s TSS parameter was found to be 2730 instead of 200 limits.
Sajjad Khan, chairman of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Marble Industries Development Association, told The News that the owners of 3,500 units in the province are their members and all issues are discussed with the government but the implementation process is slow. “The regrouping of the marble industries in an industrial zone of each city will solve all the problems. All owners will create landfills and then collect and dispose of their waste, ”he said. However, he denied reports of illnesses among workers and said water is used in marble factories, so there is no question of raising dust. “The government is levying heavy taxes but not solving our problems, which is why homeowners are on strike in the province,” he said.
Gul Roz Khan, chairman of KP Marble Mines and Mineral Association, Malakand, revealed that there are around 5,000 marble factories and crushing plants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 60% of which are in Buner and 10% each in Mohmand districts. and Mardan. “Some of them have effluent dumps. These factories do not pollute the air due to the use of water. Up to 75,000 workers are directly employed by this industry while several hundred are indirectly engaged in the marble industry, ”he said.
The head of the Sarhad Conservation Network (SCN) and the Peshawar Clean Air Alliance (PCAA), Dr Adil Zareef said the dumping of marble waste and rubbish in farmlands and irrigation canals is choking water canals. ‘irrigation, destroying aquatic life in the water channels, which is an irreparable loss. In addition, the huge marble dust and noise lead to long term health risks such as respiratory (breathing or lung) diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and lung cancer.
A study published by Environmental Technology and Innovation in 2019 found that physicochemical parameters and heavy metals (HM) are found in industrial marble effluents as well as in the blood of workers in the marble industries of the Mardan industrial zone. .
In total, twelve samples were taken from industrial effluents and seven blood samples were taken from healthy workers from different marble units on a voluntary basis. Water samples were taken for the analysis of physicochemical parameters such as electrical conductivity (EC), PH, turbidity, sodium (Na), potassium (K), calcium, hardness, chloride, magnesium (Mg) and heavy metals, i.e. copper (Cu), Manganese (Mn), Zinc (Zn) and Arsenic (As), and compared to national environmental quality standards ( NEQS) from the World Health Organization.
Blood samples from marble industry workers were taken for analysis of HM, i.e. Cu, Mn, Zn and bioaccumulation. The results showed that most of the samples had physicochemical parameters higher than the allowable limit set by the WHO NEQS, 2010. Likewise, the HM in water as well as in the blood of workers also revealed values higher than the allowable limit concentrations set by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA), the Division of Occupational Health and Safety (OHSD) and the Agency for the Registry of toxics and disease (ATSDR), United States.
In Pakistan, the estimated marble reserves are over 300 billion tons. In fiscal year 2016-2017, 4.9 million tons of marble were produced in Pakistan, of which over 2.97 million tons were produced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 1.92 million tons in Balochistan. Pakistani factories use water for cutting marble stones, which in turn generates a lot of marble mud waste. During drying, this suspension turns into marble waste.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s marble reserves contribute 97% to the country’s marble deposits. These Marble Processing Units (PMUs) are scattered around the province and generate a large amount of waste in the form of irregular marble chunks and marble slurry.