‘Plant more trees if you want to purify the air you breathe’
KARACHI: With a message of planting more trees and taking responsibility for one’s environment, Horticulture Society of Pakistan organised a talk on Karachi’s waste management problems and solutions at their Garden centre here on Saturday.
“Trees and plants take in carbon dioxide from the air to turn it into oxygen. They utilise carbon emission from cars, etc as food for themselves. Therefore we encourage you to plant more trees. It is very important that you do so if you want to purify the air you breathe,” said Syed Ehtesham-ul-Haque, environment consultant, who heads a team of experts in the United States and the Middle East who design and develop integrated waste management facilities for cities, at the beginning of his talk.
Coming then to the heaps of waste piling up in the city, he said that the government had set up a Sindh Waste Management Board, which was not just responsible for Karachi but the entire province of Sindh. “Still it is not very clear as to how this board will be working with the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. You also need monitoring, enforcement and awareness for the operation to be successful,” he said.
The expert said that even though there had been no proper census done, by making a rough estimate he could say that Karachi’s population was around 25 million. “If the waste produced by each person comes to around 0.6kg a day, it amounts to 16,500 tonnes of waste per day for the city to take care of,” he said.
“There is intent, resolve and teaching needed to clean up all this mess. Just burning trash is not going to help,” he said. “In fact, it will make you sick because the emission produced from burning waste carry dioxins. These colourless dioxins deposit in the glands and are passed onto the next generation. They also cause lung and heart diseases and cancer,” he said.
Karachi has two landfill sites — at Jam Chakro and Hub — where the city’s garbage is dumped. There is talk of another such landfill at Dhabeji as well. But Mr Haque showed examples of other landfill sites in the US where they keep covering up the garbage to keep the soil balanced. “We have not even thought about utilising all this waste for energy purposes,” he said, also pointing out how much fuel the trucks carrying the waste used up in transportation. He suggested garbage compactors to carry more garbage per trip.
“What we need is an integrated waste management system that requires the following of regulations. There should be awareness programmes about waste management at the school, college and university levels. For it makes an enormous difference when your child stops you from littering around unnecessarily and throwing things anywhere even when there are bins present. It would also make a huge difference if the corporate sector joined in and adopted portions of the beach, maybe. I’m sure there would be no pollution on our beaches then,” he said.
“There should be different waste collection systems in place for the different areas of the city according to their demographic and economic conditions. For instance, there can be a door-to-door collection in small communities and katchi abadis and roll-out containers or collection carts in other places. Garbage bags should be avoided as much as possible because they add to the waste problem. Buildings should have garbage shoots,” he said.
Other suggestions made by the expert included a fine for polluters. “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” he said summing up his talk with the old proverb.