Call for Lucky Cement Factory to compensate locals

Barkatullah Marwat

There is no doubt that Saifullah Brothers have been serving the underdeveloped district of Lakki Marwat since long and the installation of the Lucky Cement Factory (LCL) plant is one of their achievements. However, there are certain issues that need to be resolved.

It was installed in 90’s in the Valley of Sheikhbadin Mountain in Darra Pezu, Lakki Marwat, and started its production in 1996 where the then prime minister, late Benazir Bhutto, came for its inauguration.

Initially a vast area of the land comprising over 6000 kanals was acquired for its installation. Most of the landowners were not paid the price and they moved the court for seeking justice. One of them is Dr Abdul Kareem Khan, a resident of Jogi Wanda, Darra Pezu. He has been fighting the case of his land property, grabbed by the factory, in a court of law in Dera Ismail Khan district.

The most severe issue is of the local population is the environmental pollution that has affected a good number of people as the factory is emitting toxic gases.

According to the data collected so far, more than 100 local people have been suffering from various diseases, such as blood cancer, skin disease, asthma, lung-related problem, kidney-related problems, while more than 30 victims have reportedly died due to the toxic gases of the factory so far.

Ironically, the relatives of the deceased and ailing victims have neither been paid by the factory management, nor by the government yet. Some of the members of the affected families are said to have developed mental and psychological illness.

The factory has been generating huge revenue from the area at the cost of the locals’ lives, causing human loss as well as crops and livestock.

Interestingly, the officials of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been in connivance with the management of the LCL and no proper measures have been adopted for decreasing the harmful toxic gases and flaunts, emitting from the LCL in the surrounding area.

The residents have time and again staged protests against hazardous impacts of the factory and approached the district administration but to no avail.

They are of the view that they are left with no choice but to move the court and reserve a right to serve a legal notice to the factory management in order to provide justice to them.

Talking to Sunrise Today, Muhammad Farooq, resident of Darra Pezu town, said, “There are four patients at my home. All of them have contracted various diseases because of the toxic gases being emitted by the Lucky Cement Factory.”

He said he had been trying his best to provide medical treatment to the ailing members of his family, adding that he sold the valuables at his house just for the sake of their treatment otherwise he would be unable to afford the treatment expenses.

Muhammad Ismail, former union president at the factory, said that though he did not belong to Darra Pezu town, his sympathies were always with the poor victims of the area.

He said there were countless flaws in the factory as it was not only causing loss to the area but also mistreating the local workers and labourers employed in the factory. He added that the management had been involved in sheer discriminatory mentality and attitude with the workers. The locals, whether graduates or non-graduates, have been employed as labourers while non-locals (from Punjab and Sindh) have been recruited in the managerial and engineering staff.  

Regarding the ailing people, Muhammad Ismail said that the government should at least take notice of the situation where people are dying due to the toxic gases of the factory but no relief is being offered by the government or the factory management.

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