Caretaker govt’s project shelved

WMCs prepare to outsource sanitation service in districts

Afzal Talib May 22, 2024
Sanitation workers. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE


A rural sanitation project launched by the caretaker set-up, ‘Ab Gaon Chamkenge’ has been wound up as the local government and community development department has begun work on the current government's Suthra Punjab scheme, under which the cleanliness work will be outsourced in the cities as well as villages.

It is estimated that more than Rs200 billion will be spent on the scheme.

Provincial Local Government Minister Zeeshan Rafiq said Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz aims to implement a uniform sanitation system in villages similar to that in cities.

“As part of this vision, the previous initiative started during the caretaker government has been replaced with the Suthra Punjab Project. The task of cleaning and waste disposal in all districts will be outsourced and work in this regard has already commenced,” he added.

Under the caretaker government’s project to provide sanitation facilities in the villages, at least 7,404 workers had been recruited in 2,468 rural union councils and 12,000 village councils formed to oversee it. Three employees were to be hired on daily wages in each union council. A motorcycle rickshaw was to be hired in each UC for garbage collection at Rs90,000 per month. According to officials, the project envisaged a monthly expenditure of Rs430 million and a business plan had been prepared to meet the expenses.

The business plan was based on the collection of a garbage tax for both residential and commercial premises. Under then plan, Rs50 per month was to be received from the residents, Rs200 from shopkeepers, Rs1,000 from fuel stations and marriage halls and Rs2,000 from industrial units. The authorities had estimated that billions of rupees would be collected from all the rural union councils annually.

The garbage tax was to be increased after improving the services to run the sanitation system on a no profit, no loss basis. For the collection of garbage tax, Help had bene sought from the local revenue officials for collecting the tax, while the management and monitoring had been assigned to the directors and deputy directors of local government. The management committees worked under the supervision of assistant commissioners.

According to sources, about Rs5 billion has been spent on the project since it was launched in September last year, but only four per cent of the amount could be collected in garbage tax, leaving a shortfall of Rs3.8 billion.

Now, work on the Suthra Punjab Project launched by the new government has been started.

The source said more than 3,200 union councils comprising of small towns and villages across Punjab had been included in the project.

Under the plan, waste management companies (WMCs) will be set up in all nine divisions of Punjab. The companies will enter into agreements with the administrations of the 37 districts regarding the cleaning and garbage disposal.

The existing waste management companies in Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Sahiwal will outsource the cleaning work in the districts falling in their divisions. Work in this regard has begun.

The sources said the LWMC had started preparations to outsource the sanitation and garbage disposal work in Sheikhupura, Nankana and Kasur districts.

Garbage tax will be levied on the residents under the new scheme as well.

It is estimated that Rs200 billion will be spent on the Suthra Punjab Project.

However, the money is yet to be released by the Punjab government.

The sources said it had also not been decided weather the local government department would spend the funds required for the project.

Punjab Local Government Department Director General Tariq Mehmood said the villages had been included in the earlier scheme but the Suthra Punjab Project would cover all the union councils in the urban and rural areas so that all the residents of Punjab could get the same sanitation facilities.

He said work on the project was under way and the preparations to implement it would be completed as soon as possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2024.


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