Quetta’s garbage woes: Calls for engineered landfill sites to tackle waste and pollution

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Matiullah Mati

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Read In Urdu

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Quetta’s garbage woes: Calls for engineered landfill sites to tackle waste and pollution

Matiullah Mati

loop

Read In Urdu

For four years, Muhammad Ayaz from Quetta used to throw household waste in the garbage bins on the streets. However, the garbage bins have been removed for the last two years without providing any alternative. Now, he has to pay for waste disposal. This garbage is causing rot and spreading diseases. When the wind blows, plastic bags and other garbage pile up in front of their house, attracting constant flies. It becomes challenging for them, especially in the summer season.

The municipal corporation stopped placing big garbage bins in the city streets two years ago. Now, people usually throw their garbage at designated street locations, which is later collected by small corporation vehicles.

Abdul Jabbar Baloch, the administrator of Metropolitan Corporation Quetta, mentions that the corporation has 95 dumpers and 78 small vehicles to collect garbage. They also employ about 400 permanent workers and 400 daily workers for cleaning and drainage. With their help, they dispose of 700 tons of trash daily, but the remaining waste is left in the environment. Usually, they conduct a special cleaning campaign every six months or a year, but due to the financial crisis, they couldn’t carry out this campaign for the last year and a half.

Abdul Jabbar explains that 1994 they determined the garbage dump site based on the population. However, as the population continued to increase, he couldn’t expand the area of the site accordingly.

According to Tariq Javed Mengal, the former administrator of the Metropolitan Corporation, the city generates around 16 to 17 hundred tons of garbage daily. The 60-acre dump yard at the foot of the hill near the Eastern Bypass is nearly full of garbage.

Abdul Jabbar explains that a waste recycling plant was installed in 2008. The plant is meant to recycle organic waste like kitchen waste. Unfortunately, it had to be shut down because the required waste wasn’t available. Waste pickers collect a significant portion of this waste. The Metropolitan Corporation doesn’t have a policy to stop waste pickers.

Tariq Javed Mengal says that according to the 2017 census, the population of Quetta is 2.2 million, but the actual population is around 4 million. Due to such a large population, the corporation faces a staff and machinery shortage. The resources available to the corporation are insufficient to meet the needs of a population of 2.2 million.

According to Asfandyar Khan Kakar, the Provincial Secretary of Climate Change and Environment, the Environment Department formed a working group with the local government. They have sent several recommendations to the provincial government, which includes identifying and evaluating three to four engineered landfill sites in and around the city. The estimated cost for this purpose is Rs 2.5 crore.

In addition to that, the recommendations also include conducting a feasibility study to generate 5 to 10 MW of electricity from waste and transforming the existing dump site into a biodiversity park.

Marjan Gul, 32, teaches at the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering, and Management Sciences. For the past five years, he has been conducting waste research in Quetta and advocating for an engineered landfill site for the city. He emphasises that the landfill site is crucial for maintaining groundwater quality and preventing environmental pollution.

According to his suggestion, the site should be chosen far from residential areas and airports, where it won’t disturb migratory birds and water doesn’t flow into underground reservoirs.

Marjan Gull explains that a landfill site can hold ten times more waste than an open field. Besides, it can also create job opportunities and generate energy from the methane produced by the waste.

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Experts say a landfill site is constructed following engineering rules and standards. It aims to create a safe place where waste doesn’t cause environmental pollution or endanger public health. It involves layers of gravel, soil, and other materials to prevent runoff and seepage underground. The emission of methane gas, produced from the waste, is also managed in the landfill site.

Genghis Khan, from the Department of Environmental Sciences at Balochistan University, believes that building three to four landfill sites is essential for the city. During rainfall, chemicals from the open waste in the dump site are washed away with the water, which then flows into rivers or lakes, posing a threat to aquatic life.

“At the dump site, both organic and inorganic waste is discarded. The gases released from their decomposition or burning lead to air pollution. However, landfill sites can prevent all these hazards.”

Published on 29 Jul 2023

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