Dysfunctional, archaic solid waste management system in capital ruining environment


City managers despite eyeing Sangjani as new dumping site yet to make it functional

ISLAMABAD: After decades of dumping solid waste produced by the capital out in the open, the dumping sites in sectors 1 to 12 are filled to the brim.

City managers had eyed an area near Sangjani village in a quest to look for an alternative dumping space; however, the matter remains at a standstill due to the tug-of-war between Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), lack of funds and a failure to implement proposals.

Islamabad’s population produces hundreds of tons of solid waste every day. The need of new dumping sites grows with each year as the population is now exceeding two million. Yet the city administration remains indifferent to waste collection, disposal, and recycling. It is pertinent to mention that even after the passage of five decades, the capital is yet to have a proper and designated garbage dumping site.

The MCI, soon after its inception three years ago, was all set to introduce a modern solid waste management system in the federal capital. This system was to include front-end collection, sweeping, transportation and disposal of municipal waste. Interestingly, rural areas of the city were also included in the new scheme which entailed that rural areas were to be swept in line with modern standards after decades of negligence.

Despite the plans and promises, the new sanitation and solid waste management remained a pipe dream. Instead, the residents of Islamabad routinely face a foul smell, pollution, ecological and health hazards due to years of negligence, poor-planning, inefficient collection, transportation and disposal of municipal trash generated in the city’s rural and urban areas.

The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has repeatedly aired concerns regarding the I-12 dumping site, saying that the site is ill-maintained, filled more than its capacity and causing an inconvenience for residents of localities around the area; however, both CDA and MCI remain deaf and dumb to the situation.

The civic agency does not want citizens to dump rubbish on streets, roads, green belts, businesses and recreational places, exhorting them to keep the city litter free through banners everywhere. However, the authorities of CDA are ironically oblivious of their own responsibilities. One can find rubbish in open plots, streets, parks and many other places in Islamabad as the authority has no dumping site or inadequate waste lifting system.

The capital sprawls over 905 square km, comprising of dozens of localities in rural and urban areas that house over 26 sectors. Both the rural and urban population face the same problems when it comes to garbage collection and dumping sites.

While the sanitation provided to posh and upscale sectors of E-7, F-6, F-7, F-8, F-10 rivals that of any major metropolitan in the world, there is no mechanism to ensure the timely collection and disposal of garbage for the middle-class neighbourhoods of G-6, G-7, G-9, G-10, G-11 and I-9 and I-10.

Roads, streets, markets, footpaths and recreational facilities are cleaned on daily basis in posh neighbourhoods whereas, middle-class areas are littered with trash. Even the janitors here seem to be under no control as they visit according to their mood.