Pakistán - Islamabád - problémy se skládkou odpadů
Still waiting for a landfill
Disposal of solid waste on land is a major undertaking everywhere. In Islamabad, municipal refuse collected daily is dumped in a large open area towards the southwest, a little away from the city along the Kashmir highway. This refuse is occasionally burnt in the open air, bombarding surrounding settlements with an unbearably foul smell.
Needless to say, this method of waste disposal causes air and water pollution, with reports of increased incidence of diseases like asthma and other respiratory sicknesses, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and other intestinal illnesses. Moreover, it is reported that only about 70 per cent of the total municipal waste is being collected by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for dumping, the rest being left to rot.
Elsewhere in the world, modern sanitary landfill sites for disposing municipal wastes are usually chosen after careful consideration. Amongst the factors to consider are that the site must be within economic range of the source of the wastes, and it should not be an area subject to flooding or high ground water levels.
Since Islamabad was conceived and built as a model metropolis in urban planning and development over 40 years ago, it was expected that the capital authorities would have long decided on a suitable site for a landfill and adopted the latest waste disposal methods for the city. This has not happened.
Several attempts have been made since 1990 to kick start solid waste management projects with foreign funding in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Concept clearance for a Solid Waste Management and Environment Enhancement Project (SWEEP) in Rawalpindi city with proposed funding from UNDP and JICA (Japanese International Corporation Agency) was given as early as 1990.
However, it was not until 1996 that PC-1 of the project was submitted by the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation. A further fouryears later in February 2000, it was reported that the corporation had acquired 1,000 kanals of land 16 kms from the city for the site. But the project never got off the ground.
The PC-1 was revised, and the termination date of the project was even extended several times by the UNDP. But apart from, perhaps, raising awareness among citizens to the environmental hazards of the existing methods of solid waste disposal, a modern facility in Rawalpindi was never developed as envisioned. In mid- 2001, UNDP finally communicated its decision to the government of Pakistan to terminate the project.
As for Islamabad itself, a similar waste management project by JICA and CDA started in 1996 when the PC-1 of the project was drawn up for approval. The project, like the one in Rawalpindi, has also failed to materialize so far. And this despite the fact that the then federal minister for environment, Omar Asghar Khan, had announced in August 2000 that solid waste management was being accorded priority under his ministry\'s National Conservation Policy.
In July 2002, it was reported that a revised PC-1 of the Islamabad project, now estimated to cost Rs1.08 billion - up from the original Rs800 million - had been re-submitted by the CDA for approval. The Japanese government was expected to provide the major portion of the funding - Rs907.683 million - with CDA responsible for the remaining Rs99.683 million.
The project, it was reported, aimed to revolutionize the capital\'s solid waste collection and disposal system, complete with a proper, modern and scientific sanitary landfill site for pollution-free disposal of solid waste. Whether this time, the PC-1 will be approved and transformed into actual reality is anybody\'s guess.
Apart from UNDP and UNIDO, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have proposed support for pollution control projects in Pakistan. Japan and the Netherlands have also been providing support in this direction through aid-tied-to-trade.
Norway is another country involved in pollution control projects in Pakistan and the US is also known to be keen to move into this area of cooperation with Pakistan.
An official report was compiled by US authorities in 1999 providing an assessment of the civic, industry and health sectors in Pakistan which require assistance and equipment in projects related to waste management and pollution control.
If finance is not the problem, is it then the lack of agreement or decision on the appropriate site for a landfill? The capital\'s present solid waste dumping site in the west of the city is an area which, according to the master plan, the metropolis is projected to expand into.
On the other hand, the site that the CDA is considering to develop as the capital\'s first proper landfill - located in ZoneIV in the eastern park area of Islamabad along Park Road - is a controversial one.
The area is near the Rawal Lake and a natural watercourse and thus it is a site where the ground water level is known to be high, a condition not favourable for the location of any sanitary landfill since it will enhance water pollution.
Or is the delay in executing the capital\'s waste management project just a reflection of plain apathy and lack of will on the part of the bureaucracy to see the project through? After all, it is not uncommon for the bureaucracy to fail to utilize funds that have been allotted for particular projects. Or is the capital city\'s right to this important municipal service being compromised by politics and vested interests?
Whatever the reason, it is not only preventing Islamabad from having its very first modern sanitary landfill but also hampering the development of an overall improved solid waste disposal system for the metropolis.
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