Waste management: Businessmen asked to help utilise waste

The city administration plans to set up plasma gasification plants.


Our Correspondent June 20, 2012

KARACHI: Concrete efforts are needed to discard the waste which is generated by thousands of factories – who themselves have paid little attention to the issue, said Commissioner Karachi Roshan Ali Shaikh.

The heavy metals are especially harmful if the residue seeps into the soil, Shaikh said while talking to the industrialists on Wednesday. “It could take us decades to deal with the repercussions of this practice.”

Commissioner Shaikh said that the city was planning to use plasma gasification plants to utilise the organic waste. “We could have produced 60 megawatts of power by burning 1,000 tons of waste in that plant. Unfortunately that never happened.” He conceded that past attempts of finding ways to dispose of waste failed.  “This is one area where I would want our businessmen to take a little responsibility,” he said.

Karachi generates around 9,500 tons of waste every day but no one knows how much of it can be categorised as hazardous industrial waste. Most of it is buried at the open-pit landfill site in Jam Chakro, which is spread over 500 acres. Another landfill site is along the Hub River Road.

Although the authorities do not allow trash to be incinerated in open-air landfill sites, scavengers burn it and then use large magnets to collect metals.

Shaikh said that garbage was burnt without any precautionary measures. While flying over Jam Chakro landfill site, one could see a grey cloud spanning a radius of eight to 10 kilometres, he said. “All of the smoke is toxic and it comes to Karachi. It causes allergies... Even I have to take pills when I am in the city.”

Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s chief engineer for solid waste management, Najeeb Ahmed, said that no one has ever tried to find the inventory of industrial and hospital wastes. “Before we jump to conclusions let’s do our homework,” he said. “First thing to do is to figure out how much hazardous waste is actually being produced.”

He said that large-scale disposal of industrial waste requires massive investment. “The entire system from transportation to the construction of landfill site is different.” He added that many meetings have been held on the subject and a lot of forums have debated it, but nothing has been done practically. “We have all been talking, talking and talking about it,” he said. “Now is the time to do something.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2012.

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