Lahore : Provincial Minister for Environment Begum Zakia Shahnawaz addressed a press conference today on Punjab Environmental Quality Standards (PEQS). Six standards adopted from national standards include standards for municipal and industrial effluents, gaseous emissions, ambient air, noise, vehicular emissions, and drinking water quality.
Standards for treatment of liquid waste and disposal of biomedical waste by incineration, autoclaving, microwaving, and deep burial are a new addition to the environmental quality standards. The standards for biomedical waste provide detailed methods for ultimate disposal of hazardous biomedical waste. These standards will help improve control on disposal of infectious biomedical waste. The bio medical waste treatment standard will change the way province used to manage this waste earlier.
Large hospitals now have option to autoclave waste. Autoclaved biomedical waste can be sent to landfill sites. This will reduce air pollution due to incineration of such waste. Standards for incineration will regulate incineration of hazardous plastic waste coming out of hospitals. Notification of the standards is the first step towards regulation of environment in the province, the Minister said. She further said that industry-specific standards are being developed. Rs. 30 million have been provided in the annual development programme of the province for this purpose. Environment Protection Department is collaborating with international development agency of Germany (GIZ) for development of industry-specific standards in the textile sector.
She further said that it is about time that we start taking environmental protection seriously. Indiscriminate discharge of untreated wastewater into waterways has polluted our canals and rivers. Incidence of disease due to pollution is increasing. Pollution is also a cause of poverty.
The Minister said that the next step in environmental regulation is updating of existing rules, regulations and guidelines and drafting of new ones. The Punjab Environmental Protection Agency Review of initial environmental examination and environmental impact assessment regulations, 2016 have been placed on the website of EPA Punjab for comments from all stakeholders.
These regulations now regulate the consultants who carry out environmental assessment of projects. Specifying minimum educational qualification of consultants would enhance the quality of environmental reviews.
Environmental Review Fees, specified in the year 2,000, are suggested to be revised. Additionally, an annual renewal fee has also been recommended for all projects seeking environmental approval. The annual fees have been recommended to cover the monitoring expenses of EPA Punjab. This is in accordance with the “Polluters Pay Principle” enshrined in the Punjab Environmental Protection Act 1997.