The Pakistan government has approved a plan to establish an industrial zone for tanneries in Silakot at a total cost of Rs90 million (US$1.56 million). Rana Ijaz Ahmed, human rights advisor, Punjab, told a delegation from the Silakot Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the proposed tannery zone will be developed on a 300 acre tract of land.

Out of 248 tanneries of different sizes functioning in and around Silakot, he said, that nine are large scale units, 79 are medium sized and 160 are small scale operations. ‘The step is being taken to cope with the growing threat of pollution caused by the tanneries functioning there.’

The Punjab Government will underwrite 75% of the cost of the project as an interest free loan, while local businessmen will contribute the remaining 25%. The advisor said that the project will introduce measures for improving the environment as well as the overall living and working conditions in the area.

He impressed upon the businessmen and tanneries’ owners the need to ensure the installation of the industrial water treatment plants. This is because the WTO agreement makes it mandatory for all signatory countries to set up environmentally-friendly industries.

He also vowed to ensure effective implementation of various environmental laws, and appealed to the business community for maximum investment in areas of social development, as this will help the government make Pakistan a socially developed state.

Ijaz Ahmed told the delegation that the sum of Rs1.5 billion is being distributed in soft loans, with only 7-8% interest, to deserving and needy persons in the areas of Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Multan and Sargodha.

Source: Daily ‘Pakistan Observer’