Despite heaps of garbage across city, solid waste budget slashed

Published: May 14, 2018
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Disposal of solid waste in Karachi is one of the city's major issues that continues unresolved. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

Disposal of solid waste in Karachi is one of the city's major issues that continues unresolved. PHOTO: ONLINE/FILE

KARACHI: A total of Rs1.7 billion has been allocated to the Sindh Solid Waste Management Board (SSWMB) for development expenditures in the 2018-19 fiscal year. In 2017-18 it was allotted Rs2.9 billion.

However, despite this allocation, the residents of Karachi have yet to see the SSWMB functioning at its full capacity. The Sindh Solid Waste Management Board Bill, 2014 was passed by the Sindh Assembly in February 2014.

However, the board has yet to start its functions in the entire port city. The fate of the board, however, still hangs in the balance as the Sindh High Court has yet to rule on a petition challenging its establishment.

Ever since its establishment, the board has been subjected to ‘power politics’. The Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government wants to keep the board under its control, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-led city government is of opinion that the local government should be responsible for all functions assigned to SSWMB.

Currently, the board is operational in districts South, East and Malir.

Sindh presents Rs1.14tr budget

Two new waste management projects in Karachi and Shaheed Benazirabad that were included in the budget for fiscal year 2016-17 have yet to see the light of the day.

The new additions to the schemes were development and scientific improvement of two existing landfill sites in Karachi. This scheme was allocated Rs275 million back in 2016.

In 2017-18, Rs605 million was allocated for this scheme and this year Rs580 million has been allocated. The other scheme, the integration of the SSWMB project in Shaheed Benazirabad, was allocated Rs100 million in 2016-17. For 2017-18 Rs183 million was allocated and the same amount has been allocated in the upcoming fiscal year.

Apart from these schemes, the establishment of six Garbage Transfer Stations (GTSs) with Material Recovery (MR) and Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) facilities in Karachi is a scheme being reflected for years in the budget with no work to show on ground. An official of the SSWMB told The Express Tribune that the six modern GTS and two sanitary landfill sites in Karachi would be functional by the next financial year.

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He explained that in December 2017, fresh international tenders were issued for these projects as their cost was above Rs1 billion. Then Transparency International objected to their tender and said that since these will be first-of-their-kind projects in Pakistan, the board must hire a consultant who must prepare a design for these projects, he said.

The official said that, later, due to frequent transfer and postings in the board, they were unable to issue tenders for the consultancy. “Now the tender documents have been prepared and the consultant will be hired by the first week of June,” he said, adding that by July 15, they will issue international tenders for the projects again.

 

Landfill site in Dhabeji

Last year, a new scheme was introduced. The establishment of new land fill site for Karachi at Dhabeji was allocated Rs500 million and it has an estimated cost of Rs2 billion. The project was expected to be completed by June 2019 but no work has been initiated as of now.

However, this year the project was wiped off the budget books and in its place a feasibility study for the establishment of a new landfill site for Karachi at Dhabeji has been added. For this project, Rs35.7 million has been allocated with an estimated cost of Rs43.7million.

Environment sector handed third straight budget cut

The board’s executive director of finance, Asjad Mehmodd, said that they have obtained 500 acres of land in Dhabeji for this project. “It will be the country’s largest landfill site,” he said, adding that once the planning commission approves this project, they would issue its tenders.

During his budget speech, Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said that Sindh is densely populated and the most urbanised province of the country with 24% of the country’s population. The trend of urbanisation and growing population put constant pressure on water supply, sewage effluent disposal and solid waste management services.

According to the provisional census report of 2017, the population of Sindh is 47.89 million. The estimated demand of drinking water is 1,538 mega gallons per day and the waste water generation is estimated at 1,076.6 mega gallons per day at 70% of water supplied.

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