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Jhimpir project issued with notice for Keenjhar contamination

The Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) issued a notice on Monday to the management of the wind energy project of the Fauji Fertilizer Company (FFC), for the alleged contamination of the Keenjhar Lake.

The notice was issued after Sindh Environment Minister Shaikh Muhammad Afzal, Secretary Environment Mir Hussain Ali and Director General Sepa Rafiuddin visited the Keenjhar Lake and adjoining areas to determine the cause of the contamination.

The government officials were accompanied by technical experts from the Sepa and other research institutes, who observed that there was no other possible cause of the contamination of the Keenjhar Lake other than the activities of the Wind Energy Project.

“Our visit to the site revealed that the wind energy project’s management probably used some kind of explosives for digging, which resulted in the contamination of the lake water,” DG Sepa Rafiuddin told The News.

He said that following the issuance of the notice, a technical team comprising experts from the Sepa would visit the site of the wind energy farm on Tuesday and try to find out about any possible activity that could have resulted in the contamination.

However, the DG Sepa was not completely certain about the exact nature of the contamination as he claimed that he had not yet received the results of the chemical analysis of the lake’s water.

“Tests of water samples are being conducted at our own lab at the Sepa secretariat and at the lab of water technologist Dr Ahsan Siddiqui. However, we have not received the test results so far” he said.

He also ruled out the possibility of the lake water being contaminated due to industrial effluent from the Nooriabad industrial area or from the Kotri, Jamshoro industries for lack of evidence.Meanwhile, the management of the wind energy project denied receiving any notice from the environmental watchdog and insisted that, being a green energy project, it was not possible that it had caused the contamination.

“So far we haven’t received any notice from the environmental protection agency, but if they want to issue any such notice they should issue it to the Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB), the institution that allowed us to establish wind farms in Jhimpir,” said Project Director Brig (retd) Tariq Izaz of the FFC wind energy project.

Izaz rejected the claim that explosives had been used to install the wind turbine towers, saying that such explosives evaporated upon use and could not contaminate an area that is four kilometers away from the site of the blast.

“They should find out the source of contamination, its nature and the actual substance that caused the environmental hazard before pointing fingers at people,” he observed.The director of the wind energy project added that, being a green and clean energy project, the wind farms did not even use chemicals or fuel to generate electricity.

“How is it that within a day, and without any human effort, the contamination has just gone away? I believe that investigators should first come up with some concrete evidence of the cause of the incident before they start penalising people,” he remarked.

Meanwhile, Chairman Alternate Energy Development Board (AEDB) Arif Alauddin said that if wind energy farms across the world were known not to cause pollution, it seemed odd that they be expected to cause water contamination in Pakistan.

“I believe that instead of blaming the green energy projects, the authorities should get the source of water contamination identified through water analysis and then put the blame,” he said, adding that the AEDB would fully cooperate with environmental protection agencies on conservation of the environment.

Alauddin added that wind turbines of the Turkish company had already been installed two kilometers from the Keenjhar Lake and had created no problems. He said he had instructed the Wind Association to procure water samples from the lake and adjoining water bodies tested from an international lab so that actual source of continuation could be identified.

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