By Afnan Khan
LAHORE: The government has appointed a number of volunteers at various public places in the city, under a programme to create awareness among citizens to keep the environment clean, in accordance with international standards.
The move can be made a law to maintain cleanliness in the city and the people caught throwing garbage could be fined, as practiced in developed countries.
A number of volunteers carrying dustbins and literature highlighting the hazards of throwing garbage in public places have been deployed at different places especially on The Mall. The volunteers have been trained to convince citizens not to throw all kinds of garbage such as polythene bags on roads. The volunteers have been trained to offer dustbins to people so that they may dispose of garbage. The volunteers wear grey and yellow uniforms and are paid Rs 6,000 every month and remain on duty at their assigned spots till night.
DCO: District Co-ordination Officer (DCO) Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta told Daily Times that the campaign aimed at educating people about the hazards of throwing waste on roads and public places, which affected people’s health and the environment. He said the volunteers were initially going to be deployed on The Mall on a trial basis and if they were found making a difference, similar teams would be deployed at other public places across the city, such as the Racecourse Park, Model Town Park, National Park and Kalma Chowk.
Bhutta said the establishment of a clean and hygienic environment in the city was not possible without the participation of the people. He said that citizens of developed countries were not only aware of the importance of a clean environment but were also fined if they threw garbage at public places. He said the government was also planning to increase the number of waste-bins at public places. He added that the government might also start imposing a fine on those who dispose of their garbage unhygenically instead of throwing it in the bins.
A volunteer, Muhammad Imran told Daily Times, “It is a difficult job to convince people not to throw waste on the roads as it has become a habit, and no one cares about keeping the environment clean anymore. Sometimes we have to face resistance from people as they don’t consider it harmful to throw garbage on roads and claim that it is the government’s responsibility to keep the roads clean, and the government should hire sweepers for the job.”
Imran said that people do not hesitate in spitting on the roads, in parks, near bus stops and other public places without thinking that this could spread germs. He said that it was a part of their job to stop people from doing this.
Volunteers deployed near Panorama Centre on The Mall said that it was a challenge changing the mindset of the people who have gotten used to polluting the environment. They added that garbage at public places not only affected the beauty of the city but also spread diseases. The volunteers said, “Most garbage is thrown in gutters and drains, which ultimately leads to overflow of drain water, and becomes a headache for the locality.”