Environmental challenges and constraints to policy issues for sustainable industrial development in Pakistan

Environmental challenges and constraints to policy issues for sustainable industrial development in Pakistan

Like most of other south Asian countries, traditionally, Pakistan’s economy has been centered on agriculture. However, in the recent past, manufacturing and services have also emerged as major contributing sectors. The share of manufacturing sector, from 18.3% in 2007 to 30% by 2030, has been envisioned in Vision 2030. With the increasing industrial & agricultural activities, energy demands, urbanization, traffic density and population growth, the degradation of all segments (air, water & land) of environment is alarmingly increasing and remains a grave concern.

This paper assesses the impact of the industrial boom on the environment and the ability of existing agencies to meet the challenges of a clean environment in Pakistan. The paper observes that improper management of chemicals, specially in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors, have further compounded the environmental issues. Furthermore, trade liberalization programs like South Asian Free Trade Area, SAFTA, are likely to lead to export growth and thus increased production, also resulting in further environmental degradation, due to ineffective environmental legislative control and polluting production/processes adopted by most of the member countries party to the agreement.

The paper finds that 20% of the registered industries in Pakistan are considered highly polluting. Under the Self-monitoring and reporting (SMART) program for industry in Pakistan, in category A (most hazardous) there are 23 & 11 industrial sectors for industrial effluents and gaseous emission, respectively. Major industries/clusters are in textiles, leather, steel, oil refineries & mills, chemicals, ceramics, pharmaceuticals and food. Most of these are located in Sialkot, Faisalabad, Multan, Hyderabad, Lahore, Peshawar and Rawalpindi cities. More than 10 industrial states are functional and a few new ones are in development.

In conclusion, the paper recommends a critical look at the performance of all stakeholders in environment (Government, private sector and the civil society). It states that the government should pay more attention to environmental issues, institutionalize the establishment of a “Provincial Sustainable Development Fund” to support industries with soft loan for the purchase of pollution control equipment and installation and encourage the active participation of the civil society in environmental issues.

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