Passing through metropolitan’s Lahore Ring Road near Mehmood Booti area, scores of toxic and dark smoke emitting units can be seen operating-polluting the city’s environment without any fear. These are the illegal pyrolysis plants busy in extracting oil from used tyres in connivance with the officials of Punjab Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Such plants are not only operating illegally in Lahore but have also become a major reason of air pollution in Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Rahim Yar Khan, Multan, Faisalabad and other districts of the province. However, the majority of the plants are operating in Lahore and Gujranwala divisions. Experts and medics have raised their concerns over the issue, warning that burning tyres and plastic material release tremendous amounts of pollutants and residue that settle deep in the human lungs. Many studies have also highlighted the rising number of patients with lungs and respiratory diseases in Lahore and other cities of the province. Lahore has become one of the most polluted cities in the world, owing to which in recent years authorities have been taking stern action against polluters and sealed many air polluting units including brick kilns, steel mills and pyrolysis plants. According to EPA officials most of the brick kiln and steel mills have updated their systems according to the guidelines of EPA and PDMA. Although, “Pyrolysis plants were sealed and their Site Inspection Reports (SIRs) were submitted by the relevant District Officers (DOs) Environment to headquarter,” but the official seeking anonymity revealed that these plants’ owners in violation of the law, again started work after breaking seals. The official said that pyrolysis plants owners are a mafia and are deep rooted in EPA and other relevant departments. These illegally operating pyrolysis plants not only extract furnace and crude oil but also extract wires and carbon ash from used tyres and sell them in market at low price. Reportedly these plants extract over 100,000 liters oil daily and in this process hundreds of tons of carbon powder are released in the air. A few months back Punjab Environmental Tribunal (PET) heard a case in this regard in which EPA was ordered to make and submit an analysis report of such pyrolysis plants. A few plants were allowed to operate for the specific period till the completion of their monitoring. Interestingly, all those plants are operating continuously despite after the completion of their air quality monitoring. When contacted, an EPA official, who performed the monitoring tests of such plants, said that test reports of such plants have not been prepared yet. When questioned on why these plants have been operating despite completion of their monitoring? The officer said that it was EPA’s former DG who had directed these plants to be functional. Sources claim that all pyrolysis plant owners wanted their business to be regulated due to which at least 23 owners have filed writ petitions in Environmental Tribunal through an advocate. They also said that the advocate is also an environmental consultant, and these 23 plants’ owners are his clients who have hired the advocate against a huge fee of Rs.2.5 million for each case. EPA spokesperson said that the agency had sealed many pyrolysis units but following the action they changed and restarted working after changing the place. The spokesperson said that pyrolysis plants were working illegally and EPA will never let any polluter to work in the province. Without naming any official, the spokesperson said that there were a few black sheep in the agency who were helping the polluters.