LAHORE: Lack of efforts in terms of effective enforcement allegedly on the part of the state authorities concerned and ignorance on the part of the public at large are leading to huge quantities of solid waste (almost 6,000 tonnes daily), which not only litters Lahore continuously but also requires huge resources and energy to keep the city clean.

On the other hand, the efforts on the part of Punjab government to upgrade status of the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) — the city’s premier civic agency involved in waste collection and disposal – as a full-fledged authority for better enforcement seems to have diminished despite initiation of a summary in the past in this regard, Dawn has learnt.

The company has suggested imposition of Section 144 to control rubbish dumping in the city wherein the citizens dumping rubbish or throwing garbage can be penalised under the law. Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the administration to issue orders in public interest that may place a ban on an activity for a specific period of time.

“It seems that the primary focus of the LWMC is to collect and dispose of waste and nothing more despite the fact it requires massive efforts to create awareness among the public at large for keeping the localities clean by throwing waste only into bins placed at several designated areas of Lahore. However, this job of creating awareness has not been done properly,” said an official source in the Local Government and Community Development Department that supervises the affairs of the LWMC being a parent department.

Stakeholders consider lack of civic sense behind littering in city; want imposition of Section 144 to penalise garbage dumping

“I think the company should have focused on creating awareness among the public at large to keep the city clean,” the official, requesting anonymity, sought.

He also suggested to the government to make LWMC as an authority through legislation with immediate effect in a bid to empower the staff and punish all those littering the city.

On the other hand, the poor public response amid lethargic or ignorant behaviour of the people in this regard is the major reason behind littering in the city. When asked, a fruit-seller in Johar Town said: “I have no option but to throw the waste on the greenbelt as I don’t find any bin nearby my handcart”. But when reminded that there were some bins installed at a distance of around 200 to 300 meters, the vendor said: “Oh I forgot. Next I will throw the waste in the bin”.

Similarly, many people in several localities, including the posh ones, throw their waste packed in shopping bags or in scattered form in the open plots, greenbelts, roads and streets.

“Though some people use bins installed by the government, many still throw the waste at the non-designated areas daily,” admitted a resident of Sahuwari, near Shalimar Hospital. “You are right that we should throw the waste in the bins,” he added.

Talking to Dawn, Faizan Elahi, LWMC’s Manager (Community Awareness), termed public education of cleanliness key to keeping Lahore clean. He also dispelled the impression regarding the LWMC’s nonchalant efforts for creating awareness among the people regarding cleanliness and civic sense.

“You cannot imagine how hard we are trying to bring the people to a right direction that leads toward self-accountability with duty and responsibility to keep houses and the city clean,” he said. “So far we have made around 4,000 clean campus ambassadors in several educational institutions of Lahore. This exercise is making the students responsible citizens who know their duty to keep their areas clean.”

Mr Elahi said cleanliness-related education in Japan starts from the children studying in nursery class and the students in Japan were liable to clean their desks etc before leaving the school daily.

“And since we (Pakistan) have not groomed your kids regarding cleanliness, the current youth and elders are the least bothered about keeping their areas clean. Therefore, education regarding cleanliness and hygiene should start from nursery class with immediate effect. After a period of 10 years or above, you will find positive results in this regard.”

To a question, he said the company also tried hard to make community groups locality-wise in Lahore but it couldn’t be done properly due to political, logistic and other issues. He also suggested for coordinated efforts by all departments to make Lahore clean.

LWMC Managing Director Babar Sahib Din criticised the behaviour of the people towards cleanliness.

“Most people have become habitual of throwing waste in the open plots, greenbelts etc instead of the waste bins (6,000 placed by the LWMC) since they are least bothered about fulfilling their civic duty. During the last one week alone, we got 20 FIRs lodged against illegal waste dumping. But despite this, the people seem to have no concern,” the LWMC MD explained.

Right now the cases are registered under the old local government laws that are not enough to make the people refrain from littering the city.

To a question, the LWMC MD suggested to the government to treat the issue of cleanliness on the pattern of smog for which Section 144 is imposed each year on stubble burning, smoke-emitting factories and brick kilns. “If the illegal waste dumping is banned completely under Section 144 of the CrPc, we can not only penalise such people but also make the city clean more and more.”

Mr Din clarified that there was no lack of efforts on the part of the company in timely waste collection and disposal as massive efforts were being made to keep the city clean daily.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...