Ragpickers blamed for littering city streets with offal during Eid

Published June 20, 2024
Offal and garbage lie unattended on the roadside in a district Central locality on the third day of Eidul Azha.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Offal and garbage lie unattended on the roadside in a district Central locality on the third day of Eidul Azha.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

• Mayor Wahab says more than 100,000 tonnes of animal waste disposed of by Wednesday evening
• PTI, Muttahida slam SSWMB, KMC over failure to ensure cleanliness during Eid days

KARACHI: While the city administration claimed to have lifted more than 100,000 tonnes of offal and garbage generated during three days of Eid, the cutting off of offal of sacrificial animals and spreading of their impurities by rag-pickers and scavengers emerged as a serious challenge for authorities and community-based sanitation workers, making cleanliness tough during the holidays.

The city administration backed by the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) set up 99 collections points across the metropolis to lift animal offal and managed to dispose more than 100,000 tonnes during three days of Eid.

However, the deputy commissioners at all seven districts had failed to check the movement of scavengers and rag-pickers through law-enforcement agencies and ensure imposition of Section 144 which led to serious problems in several neighbourhoods.

Although the Karachi commissioner imposed the ban through Section 144 “on tearing off the offal of sacrificial animals and spreading garbage by scavengers”, the situation remained unchanged from past years as hundreds of such scavengers were seen roaming free on streets and operating without any check.

“The operation of lifting of offal continued without any break all three days by respective town municipals corporations backed by the KMC [KMC] and SSWMB,” said an official. “You can call it slow at some places due to lack of resources or manpower but it was consistent. But the real challenge was to deal with the scavengers who were found in every street and corner collecting wastes of sacrificed animals and tearing off their offal. The KMC and SSWMB officials were helpless and those who have authority to use [police] force against them were hardly found on ground. This made the whole operation a real challenge.”

The city cleanliness situation started to deteriorate from the morning of the first day of Eid as rag-pickers started to cut off the offal lying in the streets, spreading impurities.

Sources said it was the evening of the first day of Eid when the top KMC officials “using connections” in the Sindh government managed to “move” commissioner level administrations in all districts and the police moved in to enforce Section 144 to stop rag-pickers from littering the streets.

“Finally on Monday evening we saw some movement from the deputy commissioners and police to contain the operation of scavengers. The police also arrested many of them which helped improve the sanitation operation to some extent,” said the official.

Seven ragpickers held

Seven people were arrested during a crackdown on offal cutting across the metropolis during Eid holidays, city commissioner’s spokesperson and police officials said on Wednesday.

Sharing details, the spokesperson said that Shahrah-i-Noorjehan police had arrested five people identified as Suleman, Zair, Shahroz, Adil and Anwar and registered cases against them while Paposh Nagar police arrested Mohammed Yunus and Abdul Ghani and lodged an FIR against them.

Mayor visit city areas

Meanwhile, Mayor Barrister Murtaza Wahab visited almost every town during three days to get briefing on offal disposal operation.

He appreciated the efforts TMCs, KMC and SSWMB to utilise their resources and “putting their best efforts to keep city clean”.

A statement issued by the SSMWB on Wednesday said that during three days of Eid holidays more than 100,000 tonnes of offal, waste of sacrificed animals and garbage were collected and disposed of.

Talking to reporters during his visit to different collection points of East district, Mayor Wahab said “it was a huge task” but better coordination and consistent check from the KMC authorities helped meet the desired results.

“On an average, around 10,000 to 11,000 tonnes garbage is collected and disposed of from the city,” he said.

“In these three days of Eid by Wednesday evening more than 100,000 tonnes have been collected and disposed of. So you can imagine that how huge this challenge was but I appreciate my team, the TMCs and the SSWMB who worked round the clock to make it happen. Once the collection and disposal operation is completed, we would move in fumigation teams for spray so risks could be contained.”

City administration under criticism

The Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, however, criticised the city administration for failing to lift some “86,000 tonnes of offal and garbage” which was lying in Karachi streets.

In a statement, PTI Sindh president Haleem Adil Sheikh claimed to have visited several city areas of Karachi to assess the situation.

“Today is the third day of Eid and animal waste are strewn everywhere with no one to collect them,” he said and questioned the Rs18 billion budget of the SSWMB, calling it an “ineffective” body.

“Karachi has turned into a garbage dump,” he said. “An inadequate number of collection points, with only 99 for a city of 25 million residents, spread across 7 districts and 25 towns, how can the city be cleaned with? There’s a serious risk of spread of diseases due to the stench from the waste. The Pakistan Peoples Party has made Karachi the sixth dirtiest city in the world. It’s the third day, and there is no one to collect the waste. Citizens are forced to dispose of it themselves. The Sindh government must answer for its enmity towards Karachi.”

Meanwhile, the MQM-P was also found in agreement with the PTI.

In a statement, senior MQM-P leader Aminul Haq said that the “crisis” emerged during Eid holidays had “exposed the performance of the KMC and SSWMB”.

“The Eid holidays became a nuisance for the people of Karachi and Hyderabad as the local government institutions failed to perform their jobs. The Sindh chief minister and mayors of Karachi and Hyderabad should ensure cleanliness and disposal of offals without further delay,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2024

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