The Environmental Protection Ordinance (PEPO) No. XXXVII of 1983
Before the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act of 1997 (PEP-Act, 1997), PEPO of 1983 was the only piece of Pakistani legislation dealing specifically with the environment, and it was the principal statement of Pakistan’s national commitment in the field of environment. Its objective was “to provide for the control of pollution and the preservation of the living environment” in Pakistan. The key components of this Ordinance are as follows: · The establishment of a high level Environmental Protection Council (PEPC) at the federal level to form national environmental policy and ensure enforcement of National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS); · The establishment of Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), under MoELG&RD, headed by a Director General, with wide ranging functions including powers to set and enforce National Environmental Quality Standards (NEQS). These include the preparation and coordination of environmental policy. 39 The Ordinance was designed to establish an environmental policy and management structure and to install the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as the central component of environmental protection in Pakistan. Under clause 8 of PEPO, Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) are required for all projects that may pollute the environment. Essential elements of an EIA are measures to identify, tackle and monitor adverse environmental impacts of a project during design, construction and operation.
Pakistan Environmental Protection Act, 1997
Act of 1997 is an improvement over PEPO of 1983. The Act provides for sustainable development through the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and improvement of the environment.The Act is fairly comprehensive, providing for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and improvement of the environment. It contains concrete action plans and programmes for the prevention of pollution and preservation of clean and healthy environment. The salient features of the law are:
(1) The Act covers the air, water, soil, marine and noise pollution including pollution caused by vehicles.
(2) The Act provides for fixing the National Environment Quality Standards (NEQS) and their strict enforcement. For default, the Government has been empowered to levy a pollution charge.
(3) The Government has been empowered to issue environmental protection orders so as to effectively deal with and respond to the actual or potential violation of the law leading to environmental degradation.
(4) The law provides for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of various projects being launched in the country including the construction of roads, buildings, factories or other installations, or any alteration, expansion or repair of the same, or mineral prospecting or mining or quarrying, etc. The law states that no project may be launched without an EIA being carried out and safeguards provided to the effect that the proposed project will not pollute the environment.
(5) The imports of hazardous waste into the country has been banned and the transport of hazardous substances and dangerous chemicals or toxic material or explosive substances etc. has been regulated, through licenses, under prescribed rules and procedure.
(6) To ensure compliance with the NEQS, the law provides for an appropriate mechanism including the installation of devices so as to control the pollution caused by motor vehicles.
(7) A fairly high level body called, Pakistan Environmental Protection Council, headed by the Prime Minister and comprising the Chief Ministers of the provinces, relevant Ministers of the Federal and provincial governments, representative of trade, commerce and industry and members of the academia, has been constituted to formulate policy and provide guidelines for enforcing the law.
(8) For the effective implementation of the provisions of the law, the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, headed by a Director General with other staff has been constituted. This Agency is responsible for enforcing the policy and implementing the provisions of the law. On the same pattern, Provincial Environmental Protection Agencies have been created in each province.
(9) There has been established Provincial Sustainable Development Fund, regulated and managed by a Board.
(10) The Environmental Tribunals with exclusive jurisdiction to try serious offences have been provided. The law also provides for the appointment of Magistrates to try minor offences. Appeal against an order/judgment of a Magistrate lies before the Court of Session, whose decision is final. Appeal against the judgment of Tribunal lies to the 8 High Court. Stringent punishment through heavy fine and imprisonment have been prescribed.
(11) The Act also empowers the Federal Government to make rules for the implementation of international environmental agreements and conventions to which Pakistan is a party.
How environmental laws protect our society?
In Pakistan, attention has been paid right from the ancient times to the present age in the field of environmental protection and improvement. The present day legislations in Pakistan are the outcome of the growing industrialization and population pressure. Environmental laws protect our society in following ways:
- Provide for the protection and improvement of the quality of environment and preventing, controlling and abating environmental pollution.
- It empowers the Government to lay down standards for the quality of environment, emission or discharge of environmental pollutants; to regulate industrial locations; to prescribe procedure for managing hazardous substances, to establish safeguards for preventing accidents; and to collect and disseminate information regarding environmental pollution.
- The laws provides for the establishment or recognition of environmental laboratories and institutes to carry out the functions entrusted to such environmental laboratories and institutes .An environmental laboratory is a laboratory processing samples taken from the environmental media (air, water, soil, biota) both from the environment as well as from sources disposing into the environment (industries, domestic and agriculture sources, automobiles etc.). The laboratories are the essential corner stones of any effective pollution control programme. The analytical laboratories provide qualitative as well as quantitative data for good decision making purpose.
- Provides restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards