Pakistan's toxic waste case takes new turn

Published: Friday 15 September 2006

the struggle against the callous industrialists who dumped toxic chemical waste on two plots in the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (site) in Karachi, resulting in the death of a child and serious burn injuries to over 20 people (see 'Chemical crime' Down To Earth, June 15, 2006), mostly children, took a new turn on August 15, 2006. A writ petition was filed and instituted in the registrar's office of the Sindh High Court by the parents of the deceased and Iqbal Saeed Khan, former director, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (sepa), became a party in favour of those affected by the toxins.

Khan played an important role in getting the first information report registered against Farooq Gharib, owner of Gharibsons (Pvt) Ltd whose industrial plots F-620 and F-621 were used for dumping toxic waste (see 'No dumping' Down To Earth, August 31, 2006).Khan also got the manufacturers chipboard sealed. But powerful industrial lobby representing site, the largest industrial estate in Pakistan, not only succeeded in de-sealing the factory and getting Farooq Gharib released on bail, but also in getting Khan transferred from sepa.

The petition filed by Faisal Siddiqi, the lawyer pursuing the case, says Khan "is a conscientious and responsible officer". The petition reads "A number of children were so seriously injured that their legs or hands had to be amputed. It is submitted that the death and injuries was a result of the presence of industrial chemical toxic waste on the Plots F-620 and F-621." The petition also held the government of Pakistan and the government of Sindh responsible for the tragic incident.

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