No waste management system for capital’s rural areas

Updated February 16, 2016


The greenbelt along a road in Bara Kahu is littered with waste.—Dawn
The greenbelt along a road in Bara Kahu is littered with waste.—Dawn

ISLAMABAD: The lack of waste management in the federal capital’s rural areas has forced citizens to dispose of their garbage along the sides of major roads and in open areas.

There is no dumping site or garbage collection system for the entirety of the rural areas which comprise 32 union councils of the overall 50. In the absence of any such mechanism, people have taken to throwing garbage into vacant plots and alongside roads.

“We are helpless,” said Nazir Ahmed, who lives in Bhara Kahu. Mr Ahmed was throwing garbage along Murree Road and said the area’s residents had taken up the matter with the concerned authorities but to no avail.

While urban parts of the capital are under the Capital Development Agency, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration is supposed to look after the affairs of the rural areas. The Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC), which has not been formed yet, will be responsible for civic issues across Islamabad.

Mr Ahmed, frustrated, said whenever residents took up the matter with CDA, they were told to turn to the ICT administration instead. “When we ask the ICT officials, they say they have no funding,” he said.

Citizens have taken to throwing garbage in vacant plots, roadsides

Another citizen said the increasing population of the capital’s rural areas had made the lack of solid waste collection a significant problem.

“Earlier, there were several vacant plots but now you can barely find any vacant place. As a last resort, we have started throwing garbage along Murree Road,” he said.

There is currently no landfill site where the city’s waste – urban or rural – can be disposed of properly. The CDA, which is responsible for garbage collection in the urban areas, has failed to select a landfill site, collects nearly 7,000 metric tons of waste daily which is then dumped in the open I-12 sector.

According to Dr Mohammad Irfan Khan, the chairman of the environment sciences department at the International Islamic University Islamabad, the federal capital is in dire need of an integrated solid waste management system and a sanitary landfill site.

He said garbage disposed of in open spaces can be detrimental to the quality of air and water.

“Garbage on streets and roads spreads with the wind and airborne waste material. It also degrades air quality and when this airborne waste enters surface water, it pollutes the water.” He said solid waste on roads and streets hurts the aesthetic environment.

When asked about CDA’s practice of dumping waste in I-12, the environmentalist said: “In this open waste dumping site, leachate percolates into the soil and pollutes the ground water.”

Islamabad Additional Deputy Commissioner Abdul Sattar Ishani said the ICT administration was aware of the issue but had not been able to resolve it due to a lack of funding. However, he said the local government would soon be responsible for the problem.

“The IMC is now responsible for resolving this important issue,” he said.

Meanwhile, a CDA representative said the civic agency was considering various options for a landfill site.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2016