The construction of high-rise buildings coupled with the expansion of industrial areas have resulted in urbanisation which in turn has increased the population density of major cities in Pakistan. Such a situation will consequently raise the production levels of waste and sewage, which can become rather troublesome if not managed properly. Although solid waste can easily be managed through recycling, composting and burning, no serious measures have been taken to manage the sewage and industrial waste in the mega-cities of Pakistan.
There are many feasible ways to manage wastewater. Advancements in technology have made it possible to treat and convert wastewater into odourless organic fertiliser pellets. During the process, a significant number of heavy metals are retrieved. This process requires the use of electricity. The provision of land on lease, development of sewage and industrial wastewater supply lines, and low rates of electricity by the government will encourage international and private firms to invest in treatment plants. Perhaps an incentive could be to purchase a fixed amount of fertiliser pellets for the next few years, which can be used for forests and other agricultural lands by the government. The rate should be fixed below the rate of import prices of similar pellet fertilisers from Europe. In addition, a fixed tax can be applied on the value of heavy metals recovered, which can be profitable for companies. It is also worth noting that the produce, germinated from the use of organic fertiliser on farms, can be labelled as “organic”. This may potentially increase the export of local products to other countries.
With this strategy, Pakistan will be able to deal with water pollution effectively. It will simultaneously create a product that can improve agricultural output as well as create jobs and revenue streams. Considering that organic pellets are excellent for forests, because they capture morning dew, they can also help the Billion Tree Tsunami project. This will be a win-win for all.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2021.