Rules for dumping toxic waste in Pakistan

Rules for disposing toxins

Published: Thursday 31 August 2006

Wasted: Toxic waste victim in< (Credit: Shahid Husain)a divisional bench of the Sindh High Court comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Nadeem Azher Siddiqi on July 26, 2006, ordered that industrial waste should not be dumped on plot numbers F-620 and F-621 in the Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (site) -- Pakistan's largest industrial estate in Karachi.

The dumping of toxic chemical waste on these industrial plots had led to a tragedy of great magnitude in February 2006, when as many as 20 people -- mostly children -- received burns due to deadly chemicals (see 'Chemical crime', Down To Earth, June 15, 2006).

Though industrialists tried to hush the case, inhabitants formed an "action committee" and filed a petition in the Sindh High Court. According to Nawab Ali, president of the action committee, the committee was hopeful and determined to fight till the end. The petition said that post investigations, it was discovered that respondents Farooq Gharib, owner of Gharibsons Pvt Limited, Mirza Aslam, manager, Gharibsons, and other officials were "responsible for the dumping".

The petition further said that the purpose of the action committee was "not only removal of industrial chemical toxic waste from the area, but also to stop dumping of waste in totality".

"The significance of the case lies in the fact that it is a petition initiated by the community itself. It is not an elite ngo petition or an elite lawyer petition. It has the potential of mobilising people in site to at least start doing something about the industrial waste dumping. Our ruling class is part of the problem and cannot do anything for problems faced by the poor," said Faisal Siddiqi, the lawyer pursuing the case for free.

He pointed out that Pakistan judiciary has always played a significant role in highlighting environmental issues. The judgement on dumping by the High court could just become a landmark judgement in the judicial history of Pakistan.

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