SOLID WASTE management department of City District Government Lahore (CDGL) is heavily contributing in polluting the environment of the provincial capital in one or another way.
As per the figures collected from solid waste management (SWM) sources, around 6000 tons of solid waste is generated daily in Lahore, while over 500 tons waste is generated in Lahore cantonment board, model town society, defence housing society and other areas. Sources revealed that out of this 6000 ton of waste, 35 per cent remained on the roads due various reasons including low lifting capacity of SWM, lack of proper training to staff regarding lifting garbage, absence of staffers from duties etc.
Following the lack of garbage lifting capacity of the SWM, heaps of scattered waste, garbage and rising dust has become a permanent feature of the city. The SWM department is supposed to lift garbage and solid waste from the city and dispose it off at the landfill sites in a proper and scientific manner. Unfortunately, the CDGL does not have any proper and scientific landfill site. There are three landfill sites in the city and none of them is operating scientifically, resulting in seriously affecting the quality of underground water, air and health of people in the adjoining areas. These landfill sites are situated at Mehmood Booti, Kahna Kacha and Sagian Bridge and the SWM staff has been dumping almost every kind of waste including hospital waste at these three sites for the last many years.
A senior SWM official, seeking anonymity, revealed that none of the three sites was environment-friendly and was disposing off waste against the basic concepts of the landfill sites. He said, open dumping of waste was hazardous for both the environment and human health and there was an immediate need to adopt scientific approach in this regard, adding that none of the three sites had any liners (sheets of plastics laid in the soil to stop chemicals going into the ground water), due to which chemicals from discarded items such as batteries, paints, and cleaners could leach directly into underground aquifers used for drinking water.
Punjab Environmental Protection Department (EPD) recently conducted a survey in the localities adjacent to the landfill site of Mehmood Booti, which revealed that almost every third person in a family is suffering from respiratory, abdominal, stomach or other diseases. Besides this, the SWM workers are not properly trained to lift solid waste and garbage from the city and at many points one can witness the staff of SWM busy in burning garbage in or outside the waste containers.
Another reason, which gives a dirty look to the city, is open dumping of garbage on city roads as well as in the waste collectors placed by the SWM in different city localities. One can always witness scattered garbage even outside the SWM’s containers across the city. Scavengers, beggars and addicts ‘scrutinise’ this garbage and take out ‘valuables’.
Majority of the city’s major roads are no exception to the phenomenon and garbage heaps and filth can be found on Ferozpur Road, Multan Road, Jail Road, The Mall, GT Road, Circular Road etc. These roads are also not swept properly and in case of a thunderstorm, one can witness empty shopping bags and other garbage flying everywhere. Absence of sanitary workers from their jobs is also one of the main causes resulting in dirty look of the city. Sources said that majority of the sanitary workers slipped away after marking their presence. Besides doing private jobs, sanitary workers are also performing different kind of duties at the residences of senior CDGL officials.
Dr Tufail Siddiqui, district officer (operations), SWM, while talking with ’The News’, said the department was taking every effort to make the city neat and clean. He said municipal services were interlinked with each other, so the SWM could not be held responsible for the entire situation. “Encroachments are also responsible for generating a huge amount of garbage and removing these encroachments is the job of towns and city district government,” he said, adding that like this, the traffic police had already been directed to stop the movement of open trucks and trolleys carrying mud and sand but such vehicles were seen moving fearlessly in every city locality. He further said that the presence of cattle in the provincial metropolis was banned but still a large number of cattle were being kept in the city. “Cooperation of people is must in keeping the city clean,” he said and urged the people to avoid such throwing of garbage outside the containers or dust bins.
Answering a question about burning of garbage, he said the department in past took strict action against the officials and workers involved in such practice. He said in majority of cases, gardeners, scavengers, addicts and beggars used to burn the garbage. The department has planned to construct 100 waste enclosures across the city and so far 15 such enclosures have already been constructed. He said the proposal of a scientific landfill site was also under process. Besides, the department has introduced double shift for lifting garbage and has always tried to lift all the solid waste and garbage from the containers every day.