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Is Economic Prosperity from Industrialization worth the economic Degradation?

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In the marathon of becoming under-developed to develop countries take the route of industrialization to prosper the nation but the factor of environmental damage can’t be ignored. Pakistan as a developing country is achieving the economic stability through industrialization without considering the environmental damage. We need to change our mindset of being developed because the development is directly linked with a healthy environment. Industrialization has two sides one is positive i.e.; economy boosts but on the negative side the environmental destruction occurs. Any residual material releases from industries (mills, factories etc.) in the form of air, water or soil pollution is collectively known as industrial pollution. Before going into the detail elaboration of the effect of industrial waste on environment, first we will look into “The Policy Making Cycle”.

The first step is “Problem Identification” which in our case the environmental damage causes because of industrial waste. As we discussed earlier, industries release the wastes in air, water and soil. One of the main reasons of air pollution is industrial waste in the air such as the emission of organic compounds such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. Carbon dioxide is the main reason of greenhouse effect in the air which increases the temperature of the earth by trapping the sun’s heat which causes global warming. One of the main reasons of ozone depletion is industrial waste such as halogenated hydrocarbons that are released during the production process. This depletion causes the increase of UV radiations in the earth’s atmosphere which causes skin cancers and immune disorders. These radiations not only affect the human’s life but also disturb the aquatic ecosystem and decrease agricultural growth. Power plants also release sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air while burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas which causes acid rain again cause destruction of the environment.

Like air pollution, water pollution is also caused by poor industrial waste management. Many industries release the contaminated water without treatment into rivers, canals and ocean. Disposal water contains many harmful substances like phosphates and nitrates which spread diseases when used by living beings. Cholera and hepatitis are the main diseases spreading because of water pollution. Algae spreads on the surface of water which decreases the availability of oxygen thus disturbs the marine ecosystem.

Industrialization is also contributing in causing the land pollution or soil pollution which is defined as any waste released by industries which deteriorate the earth’s surface. Industrial waste is one of the main causes of land pollution. There are huge numbers of industries that are not managed by environmentally sound manners. Textile industry is fulfilling the second basic need of man thus polluting the environment in an unimaginable way. Cotton crop is consuming most of the fertilizer than any other crop. These fertilizers make the land barren for long time. Textile industries release hazardous waste into nearby land. Pesticide manufacturing industry is growing fast in the past few decades which releases hazardous waste produced as a by-product which is becoming a major cause of land pollution. Lead-acid batteries manufacturing units are not operating with the best environmental friendly techniques thus causing land pollution.

Broad-based industrial sector of Pakistan includes textile, fertilizer, pharmaceutical, and agriculture related industries. These industries release fatal wastes in air, land and water such as smoke, useless by-products and harmful chemicals respectively. Unfortunately, there is no check and balance by regulatory authorities and other stakeholders which making this situation worse than before. Pakistan’s environmental policy is restricted to paper work and its implementation is always seen in the air. In Pakistan policy implementation is the main hindrances in the process of policy making. We can’t manage our environmental issues until we have a proper policy for environmental sustainability.

The second step towards policy formulation is “Agenda Setting” which is the most crucial step because none of the identified problem takes the path of policy formulation. When we take agenda setting into account, we need to consider the significance of the problem defined. The significance and the importance of the defined problem enable the policy makers to bring the agenda onto the table that further ensures the consent of the people. When the problem is considered a problem not just by the policy makers but by the masses it brings change and hence agenda is set. The problem of poor industrial waste management must be considered a problem by the people and how it affects them and the environment then we will be able to move further. The people living in the big cities of Pakistan are facing serious health issues caused by these industrial units. Faisalabad the city known for its textile industries has becoming a hub for the disposal of untreated water into sewer system. Punjab Environmental Protection Agency is inefficient and giving illegal rights to these industrial owners to run their units without taking into account the environmental damage. Dying units in this city are discharging harmful chemicals directly into nearby water bodies. Population is also growing in this city thus more and more people living in this city suffering from fatal diseases such as hepatitis because water has become impure after mixing with disposal water. Not only human life animals and marine life is also in danger. Agricultural productivity is also decreasing because chemicals that lower the annual productivity are mixed water use for agriculture. The whole scenario of damaging the environment is because of the inefficiency of EPA and most of these industries are owned by those who have close link with politicians that allow them to misuse the powers.

Lahore is also a hub for industries in Pakistan but unfortunately, these industries don’t have wastewater treatment plants which are mandatory for every industrial unit to install such plants. River Ravi is a natural asset of Pakistan for its water providing ability but these industries discharge their untreated waste into this river. Pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and dying industries are mainly responsible for damaging the Ravi water. People living in this city are also suffering from hazardous diseases. Many animals are in danger which as a result disturbing the natural ecosystem. Most of the industries use coal as a fuel to run the plants but the smoke produced are released directly into the air without any treatment. Many dying industries are situated right next to housing societies which releasing harmful smoke throughout the year resulting in Asthma and other respiratory diseases.

Like Lahore and Faisalabad, Multan and Karachi are also notorious because of their poor industrial waste management. Unfortunately, competent authorities are corrupt and illegally allowing the mill owners to damage the environment in their own way. Residents of these areas are aware of problems caused by these industrial units and are dying because of hepatitis and asthma. Even children of these areas have serious respiratory issues since childhood. This whole situation sets an agenda for the urgent need of a policy for the management of industrial waste in Pakistan.

After highlighting enough evidences on the severity of the problem now we will move to the next step that is “Policy Formulation”.

Conventional wastewater treatment plants are not cost effective thus need high investment for installation and have inefficient recycling processes. But low temperature evaporation technology is one of the most efficient mean of treating industrial discharges. This technology runs on the lowest power consumption without the use of heat for evaporation. Normally discharge water has TDS around 10,000 but after using this technology of low temperature evaporation we are able to get water of TDS 20 only. The main advantage of this technology is to get crystal clear water that can be use again for industrial purposes. Through this technology marine life will be safe because now the waste water will not dispose directly into the rivers to disturb the ecosystem. Pakistan is known for its textile industries which releases tons of waste water every year without any proper treatment but if we setup such treatment plants in these factories we can treat our water easily and reuse it for production purposes. The main advantage we will have from this technology is the improvement in the dying because this crystal-clear water maintains good shine and depth while dying different fabrics.

Water treatment is a collective action based on individual capacity. Administration branch of these industries should abandon their conventional ways of production and practices that produce untreated disposals for damaging the environment. Mill owners in Pakistan are unaware of the environmental damage that their mills are causing while production processes. They are not well educated to understand the dynamics of harming the environment while conducting their businesses. The only target of these industrialists is profit maximization therefore; they are reluctant towards environmentally friendly technologies. Government should reform stringent action plans against them to gain sustainable output for environment.

Regulatory authorities solely responsible for environmental protection should be held accountable so that none of the authority provides illegal permits to these industrialists.

The political system of Pakistan is handicap because of the deeply rooted corrupt practices that influence the legal course of action. The failure to address the matter of corruption and unethical practices has led Pakistan to a point that each individual doesn’t consider or respect the institutions or the rule of law. It is not wrong to say that Pakistan is moving towards an anarchic system of state.

Until and unless the institutions and the infrastructure is fixed no public problem (external or internal) can be solved, let alone the problem of environment.

Further steps in Policy making such as decision making and policy implementation are the responsibility of different state level stakeholders. Decision making is solely the government responsibility by taking into account the cost and benefit analysis and policy implementation requires the best tools for policy implementation which in our case should be the strict legal action against mill owners. Rule of law should be applicable at all levels and everyone should hold accountable in front of law.