LAHORE: The Environment Protection Department (EPD) has sealed 55 units of furnaces and steel re-rolling mills in the provincial capital in the last five days for creating pollution that contributed to the “smog” that has been enveloping the region for many days.
The sealing operations were also conducted in Sheikhupura and Gujranwala districts.
Those associated with these businesses complain that the sealing operation has been carried out without serving any prior notices to the owners, which they say resulted in halting their daily production, rendered thousands of daily-wagers jobless and caused hike in iron and steel products’ prices.
District Officer (environment) Anjum Riaz told Dawn on Wednesday that officials had sealed 55 units out of the total 337 in Lahore district.
He said the action had also been taken against the units which failed to make their scrubbers functional to control emissions.
Mr Riaz said the department was already continuing campaign against the industrial units emitting toxic fumes in the atmosphere and not adopting safety measures.
He said the cases against the sealed units would be sent to courts for legal action.
A couple of owners of furnaces and re-rolling mills said the discriminatory action against their businesses was resulting in an increase in the prices of billet and other products.
According to them, a furnace unit produces on an average 150 tons of material per day and provides employment to around 700 daily-wagers who work in three shifts.
They said the furnaces were not the sole culprit causing air pollution or smog as other various industries and traffic on roads were also among contributing factors.
They claimed the furnaces were the biggest consumers of the Lahore Electric Supply Company (Lesco) and had less transmission losses.
They demanded the government should stop harassing the owners and unseal their furnaces and re-rolling mills to save the industry from “looming crisis”.