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Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 18:34 GMT
Pollution problem for Pakistan brewery
Murree beer
Murree beer on sale in London: The home market is small
Pakistan's only brewery has been temporarily closed for producing too much polluting waste.

Authorities slapped the environmental protection order on the Murree Brewery in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's twin city.

The order does not appear to be linked to any opposition to the brewery from the administration or religious parties.


Eat, drink and be Murree

Company motto

But there was surprise at the dramatic way in which policemen moved in on Wednesday evening and sealed up the factory's waste pipes.

Long-standing problem

Murree's chief executive, Minoo Bhandara, said he wanted to buy machinery from India to control the waste problem but had yet to get permission.

The issue of excessive waste produced by the factory is a long-standing problem.

The state-run news agency said the smell from the brewery and its effluent were a nuisance for local residents.

Tiny market

The Murree Brewery has faced many problems trying to make a profit in a country where the vast majority of the population are not allowed to buy alcohol.

Only the small percentage of non-Muslims in Pakistan can purchase beer and spirits, and for that they need the necessary permit.

Two other factories in the country produce alcoholic spirits.

Prohibited from selling alcohol to 97 percent of the population, the Murree brewery began exporting to Britain two years ago in an attempt to revive its fortunes.

Set up by the British in 1861 near the hill station of Murree to cater to colonial troops, its market shrank after partition in 1947 when it found itself inside a Muslim state.

But Mr Bhandara, a Parsi who has run the business since his father died in 1961, stays cheerful.

"Our company motto is: 'Eat, Drink and be Murree'," he was once quoted as saying.

"What else can I do?"

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