KARACHI: While the Pakistan Peoples Party-led provincial government has deprived local government institutions of a number of powers, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and other local bodies across the province have been relieved of their prime responsibility of solid waste collection and disposal under the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013.

Karachi has presented the look of a big garbage dump ever since the Sindh government, which time and again reminds the federal government of the 18th amendment to the Constitution by asking it to devolve more powers to the province, gave itself the basic function of the KMC and district municipal corporations and set up the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board last year.

Now instead of elected LG representatives, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah (or the chief secretary as his nominee), being the chairman of the solid waste management board, is responsible for the collection and disposal of solid waste not only in Karachi but across the province.

Sindh board set to take over solid waste management offices, resources of KMC next month

Officials said that before the councillors-elect took office, the Sindh government would take complete control of garbage collection and disposal, all staff, budget, machinery and vehicles in Karachi, Larkana and Shaheed Benazirabad.

In February last year the PPP government got the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board Bill passed from the Sindh Assembly on the basis of its majority. “We did oppose the bill and after its passage we said on the floor of the house that the Sindh CM had now become the chief sanitary inspector,” recalled MQM leader Syed Faisal Subzwari, who was then the leader of the opposition in the Sindh Assembly.

The bill said that the solid waste management board would not only help in cleanliness in cities and towns, but would also generate revenue, and produce power from solid waste.

According to the law, the chief minister or his nominee is the chairman of the board with its managing director and four executive directors as its members. The additional chief secretary (development), secretaries of local government, industries, health, finance, katchi abadis, environment departments, Karachi mayor, president of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, director of military lands and cantonment and administrator of Defence Housing Authority are the ex-officio members of the board.

Section 8 (1) of the Act clearly states: “The Board shall have the right over the solid waste related issues, assets, funds and liabilities of the Councils and shall possess sole rights on all kinds of solid waste within the limits of all Councils”.

The board, which is currently headed by the chief secretary as the CM’s nominee, with Roshan Ali Shaikh as its managing director, has met only thrice over the past one year and preparations are under way to finalise the agenda of the fourth and crucial meeting.

The board’s secretary, Dr Mir Nusrat Panhwar, told Dawn that in the first phase, the board would take over the solid waste management system with all staff, sanitary workers, offices, accounts, vehicles, etc, of Karachi, Larkana and Shaheed Benazirabad. “This will be completed by next month following a notification to be issued by the local government secretary,” he said.

In the next phases, the board would take over the solid waste management system in Hyderabad and other Sindh districts, he added.

However, Dr Panhwar did not see any problem in taking over the basic municipal function from the metropolitan and municipal corporations as well as municipal and town committees.

In the local government system of 2001, the solid waste management was part of municipal services of the district governments. However, in the SLGA, 2013 the task of solid waste management was not given to the metropolitan and district municipal corporations, as these bodies were left with the responsibility of ‘sanitation’ that includes sweeping for cleanliness only.

“The solid waste management board is not a bad thing but the PPP created it with ill intentions as it wanted to sit on the annual budget of billion of rupees and control thousands of jobs across Sindh,” said a senior KMC official.

He added that if the PPP was serious about solving solid waste problems across the metropolis, it would have established it for Karachi only on the pattern of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2015