FAISALABAD: The Water and Sanitation Agency’s (WASA) latest project, a waste disposal station on a piece of land in Dawood Nagar, has drawn criticism from the local community.
Reportedly, the station is being constructed to facilitate three million people facing sanitation problems in the locality. Previously, the agency had received several complaints regarding sanitation and sewerage during the rainy season.
Keeping these in mind, WASA purchased land in 2012 in order to construct a disposal station. However, the project kept facing delays. In the absence of any construction, a school located adjacent to the piece of land began to use the space as a playground for students.
The private school’s administration built a boundary wall around the piece of land and installed swing sets and slides, transforming the area into a playground. Meanwhile, WASA officials made several attempts to have the land vacated. However, they retreated after facing backlash from the community.
Officials then, with the help of the district administration and police, managed to have the land vacated four months ago.
WASA Managing Director Faqeer Hussain stated that a few years ago, they had bought private land for the disposal station project at a cost of Rs9 million. “The land is the agency’s property and was purchased to solve the sanitation problems being faced by the locals,” he said.
He maintained that the school administration had illegally occupied the land and started to use it as a playground. After being successfully evicted, local community leaders are hatching conspiracies to get the land back, he claimed.
On the other hand, the local community and the school administration are against the construction of a disposal station. In a request to the Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, they explained that the school administration and WASA Faisalabad agreed to develop the piece of land next to the school as a playground.
They highlighted that the property was inundated with sewerage at the time and had become a breeding ground for dengue and other diseases. The school administration drained the water, removed the garbage and built a wall around the plot, the statement read.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, locals maintained that the government should take notice of the matter and stop the construction of the disposal station. The disposal station would only pollute the environment, whereas the playground provides a recreational activity for students, they added.
WASA’s MD refuted citizens’ concerns and said that more than 30 disposal stations are operating in Faisalabad’s populated areas without any problems.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2019.