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DHA developing Phase VIII without EIA: Sepa

KARACHI: The Sindh Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) served a notice on the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) administrator on Monday for launching the Phase VIII project without conducting an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study.

“It must be noted that the development is being carried out without conducting an EIA, which is mandatory under the provision of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014,” a letter signed by Sepa’s director-technical said.

The letter titled Compliance of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014 for development of DHA Phase VIII, Karachi, cites Section 17 of the Act under which, “No proponent of a project shall commence construction or operation unless he has filed with the federal/provincial agency an initial environmental examination or, where the project is likely to cause an adverse environmental effect, an environmental impact assessment has obtained from the provincial agency approval in respect thereof”.

Referring to an advertisement that appeared in newspapers, the letter said it showed that the DHA was developing or had developed Phase VIII comprising a huge area (about 4,500 acres) that involved residential and commercial set-ups including a zone for the construction of high-rise multi-storey buildings as well as other exclusive business and recreational activities.

Such a development, according to the letter, that comprised construction of roads and other infrastructure for the settlement of significant number of population might cause an adverse effect on the physical and biological environment.

The letter listed a number of challenges/issues that could develop due to the project’s construction. They include climate and energy considerations, natural cycles (including water) and their connected social processes, environmental issues, generation of waste and management practices, air pollution, traffic congestion, noise pollution, damage to the coastal environment due to construction of seafront projects and land reclamation (if any), loss of natural open space to the general public, loss to aesthetic value and restriction to the general public for recreation and issues related to increased urban density.

“In view of aforesaid facts, it is advised [that you] submit an EIA of the said project at the earliest. It must be communicated that the said project has been in contravention to the provisions of the Sindh Environmental Protection Act, 2014 and the provisions of previously enforced Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997 and the rules/regulations made there under,” the letter said.

The boundaries of the EIA (the areas to be covered and addressed in the report), according to the letter, are decided through a consultative process.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2014
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