RAWALPINDI: Waste collection mechanism may have improved with award of a multi-million dollar contract to a Turkish firm, the Rawalpindi authorities are yet to find a sustainable solution to dispose of the waste.
Al-Buraq, a Turkish firm, was handed over the task of collecting and disposing of solid waste in 63 union councils of Rawalpindi city and one union council of Murree city.
Earlier, waste management was the responsibility of the now defunct, District Solid Waste Management Department (DSWMD).
The Punjab government set up the Rawalpindi Waste Management Company (RWMC) in 2012 replacing the (DSWMD).
The RWMC awarded a Rs8 billion contract to the Turkish company for seven years.
Earlier on the DSWMD, used to spend Rs500 million annually.
The waste collection has significantly improved with Al-Buraq taking over the responsibility.
The 250 tons of waste collected the DSWMD has increased to 850 tons of collection by the Turkish firm at present.
The RWMC, however, has not been able to put in place a sustainable waste disposal mechanism.
The company has allowed the contractor to set up a transfer and segregation station at a public park beside the offices of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA).
The station is located near Nullah Leh where over 200 vehicles of Al-Buraq bring waste material from across the city.
From the station, trucks transfer the waste to Losar landfill site near Rawat.
The transfer station itself had become a nuisance and environmental hazard as the waste is often strewn in open place in the park.
The RDA office, Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation’s office, and the Rawalpindi Press Club are located close to the waste transfer station.
Many have complained about the stench arising from the waste.
Earlier, the transfer station was located near the bus terminal on the bank of Soan River along the GT Road.
It was moved within the city after the Turkish company won the contract.
The dumping and disposal of the waste is still the responsibility of the RWMC. The RWMC continues to dump the waste into huge holes dug up at Losar without treatment.
The company fills a hole, covers it up with soil and mud and moves to the next.
The area around the landfill has become uninhabitable due to environmental issues and stench.
The landfill, built under the Rawalpindi Environmental Improvement Project (REIP), is expected to accommodate the waste from the city till 2025.
However, some officials of the city government said that due to enhanced collection the landfill site could only be used for two to three more years.
Under the project, 75 acres of land were purchased in Losar.
The landfill was supposed to have drain lines under the dumping site.
The waste was to be dumped on iron bars for drainage.
The site was to be covered with trees and was to have buffer zones for better environment.
The RWMC Managing Director, Irfan Ahmed Qureshi, said that the department had decided not to develop the Losar landfill site as it could become unusable in 24 to 30 months.
He said the company was looking for 1,500 kanals of land for a new landfill, which he said would be developed “properly” and according to modern ways.
Qureshi said the waste transfer station was moved within the city as it was a requirement of the Turkish firm.
He said that the RWMC would build a new transfer station at the site of a weekly bazaar near RMC’s office within next three months.
Qureshi said that the city government had approved the site for the waste transfer station.
He said that the park would be restored after the new transfer station was set up.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2016.