Another mega project starts sans EIA report

RAWALPINDI, Sept 7: The Punjab government is all set to launch work on the Rs1.017 billion 6th Road flyover from September 15 without getting the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which is mandatory for such projects.

The construction work will be started next week while the formal groundbreaking ceremony will be held on September 15.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will lay the foundation of the flyover and the Institute of Urology and Kidney Transplant at Shamsabad besides inaugurating the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology.

It may be noted that the Punjab government has become habitual to ignoring the environment impact assessment (EIA) reports before launching such projects.

It completed the Chandni Chowk flyover, Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology and Peshawar Road expansion projects without getting the EIA reports.

According to the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 (Section 12), the provincial secretaries and local administrative staff are bound to obtain the EIA report from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) before starting any construction project.

The rule also stated that the officers needed to publish public notices in the national press about the projects in connection with the Environment Impact Assessment and the initial environmental examination reports.

As the general elections approach, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is trying to launch maximum development projects in the province, especially in the garrison city, to get support from the people.

For this purpose, it is launching development projects in a haste while ignoring the rules and regulations. The provincial government wants to complete the 6th Road Flyover within three months and to start a flyover and an underpass worth Rs1.5
billion at Pirwadhai Mor on Peshawar Road.

A senior official of Punjab Environment Protection Agency (Punjab-EPA) in Lahore requesting anonymity said the EIA report would assess the environmental impacts of a project and identifying options to minimise environmental damage.

He said the EIA gave an opportunity to the planners to point out the hurdles in clean environment at the early stage of the project and would provide an opportunity to address environment impacts.

He added that the environmental impact assessment mainly focused on the proposed physical developments such as highways, power stations, water resource projects and large-scale industrial facilities.

“We have applied for the EIA and it is under process,” said 6th Road flyover project director Jamshaid Khan while talking to Dawn. He said it was not a new project which would damage the environment as Chandni Chowk Flyover was 500 metre away from the new project site.“The EIA is necessary for new projects and such a flyover is already working in the area and providing facilities to the people,” he said.

When contacted, District Officer (Environment) Shaukat Hayat said the provincial government had not applied for the EIA report.

“Some officials of the Communication and Works Department came to my office and informed us that they wanted to get an EIA report, but they never came again,” he said.

He said there were some requirements for the preparation of such reports and the agency would check all the aspects