PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has directed authorities to move a solid waste dumping site away from a Warsak Road residential colony here.

The directives came from a bench consisting of Justice Syed Mohammad Attique Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmad after hearing into a petition of residents of Officers Garden Colony against the Water and Sanitation Services Peshawar (WSSP) over the establishment of the dumping site in their neighbourhood.

The court directed Peshawar commissioner Riaz Khan Mehsud to find a new location for the dumping site and relocate it immediately.

It also asked the assistant director (litigation) of the provincial Environmental Protection Agency produce a report about the relocation of the dumping site after visiting it.

Directs EPA to produce report on issue

The government claimed that solid waste was temporarily dumped near the Officers Garden Colony before being shifted to the main dumping site on the outskirts of the provincial capital.

The bench also ordered authorities to take steps to minimise negative impact of the garbage dumping at the site until its relocation.

“The WSSP shall remove the waste, if any, dumped adjacent to the Officers Garden Colony, Warsak Road Peshawar on a daily basis till alternate arrangements [are made],” it declared in a verdict on the petition.

It added that solid waste should be temporarily dumped at the maximum possible distance from the residential area as the plot area of the garbage transfer station was around 500 kanals and the activity of temporary dumping of waste should be done away from the residential buildings of the Officers Garden Colony.

The court ordered the transfer of solid waste from that site on a daily basis to the final disposal point.

“A buffer zone in the form of plantation with minimum tree and plant height of ten feet should be done around the boundary wall towards the residential area. Infectious and hazardous hospital waste should not be brought and dumped at the subject transfer station site,” it declared.

The court added that the burning of solid waste at the transfer station should be strictly prohibited, while local scavengers should not be allowed to collect waste from there.

It ordered fumigation of the site on a daily basis.

Lawyers Rab Nawaz Khan, Tajdar Faisal Babar and Mohammad Asif appeared for the petitioners and said solid waste from Peshawar district was being dumped in an open place adjacent to the colony on a daily basis in large quantity, badly affecting the environment of the locality and spreading diseases.

They argued that stinky smell emanating from the site overwhelmed the entire area and it had become difficult for the residents to live in the locality.

Peshawar commissioner Riaz Mehsud, who is the acting chief executive officer of the WSSP, said he was aware of the issue and was ready to take all legal steps to redress the grievance of the residents in line with the court’s orders.

He added that the land in question was property of the Peshawar Development Authority and was used a temporary dumping site, where solid waste was collected before being transferred to the permanent dumping site.

The bench also highlighted the gravity of solid waste issue in the country, observing that it was a matter of grave concern as more than five million people died every year due to waste- related diseases.

“In Pakistan, roughly 20 million tons of solid waste is generated annually, with annual growth rate of about 2.4%. All major cities including District Peshawar are facing enormous challenges of tackling the problem of solid waste,” it observed in the verdict.

The court declared that like other developing countries, waste management sector in Pakistan was plagued by a wide variety of social, cultural, legislative and economic issues.

It added that the country had fewer facilities for waste management than the waste production.

The court pointed out that there was no proper waste collection system, while waste was dumped on the streets with wastes not being collected separately.

“There are no controlled sanitary landfill sites and open burning is common. Cities are not aware of the relationship between reckless waste disposal, which results into environmental and public health problems,” it declared.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2024

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