Land mafia agents opposing the Sangjani landfill site: experts



ISLAMABAD – Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed said: Some government officers and pseudo environmentalists are supporting the land mafia against the Sangjani landfill site, as they have previously done in the case of Kurri landfill site.

Islamabad – The experts and the environmentalists while speaking at a webinar said a landfill site is the only solution available for the federal capital until the government comes up with an Integrated Solid Waste Management (ISWM) solution. However, they said only 15 percent of the waste shall go to the landfill site after segregation of the waste collected into organic and inorganic. The reusable and recyclable waste shall be separated particularly. Industrial and hospitals’ toxic waste should not be dumped into the landfill site. The government should go for the Sangjani landfill site it after addressing the citizens’ concerns and educating them on it.

Some of the participants also highlighted that the Kurri Road landfill site was an ideal place for garbage dumping, even the design was much better and according to the international standards. But, some of the so-called environmentalists and technical experts misguided the citizens to protest against it. The higher judiciary was also presented with wrong statistics to have an influenced decision to support the vested interest of the land mafia that ultimately benefited Bahria Town owners. The same is being repeated in the case of Sangjani landfill site with the support of some government officers, environmentalists and technical experts in connivance with the land mafia.

The webinar was organized by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan) on Saturday. The keynote speakers included UN Habitat Country Manager Jawed Ali Khan, EMC Chief Operating Officer and former director general Pak-EPA Asif Shuja Khan, Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed, and ISWM expert Saadat Ali. Others who spoke on the occasion included SDPI Director Environment Dr Imran S Khalid, Prof Sofia Khalid, Sindh Environment Department Deputy Director Abdul Basit Khan, Dr Rashid Miandad from Peshawar, Nima Gurang from Kathmandu (Nepal), and Zia ul Islam, National Programme Manager Ozone Cell of Ministry of Climate Change, and environmentalist Ali Abdullah, Zainab Mukhtar and Uzair Aftab.

Speaking on the occasion, UN Habitat Country Manager Jawed Ali Khan said garbage is no longer considered as waste but as a resource. After adequate segregation, most of the waste becomes raw material for many products. We need to educate the public and authorities to understand the new mechanisms of waste management.

As a technical agency of the United Nations, He said the UN Habitat has provided assistance to many countries to develop and manage the Integrated Resource Recycle Centres (IRRCs). One was also developed in Sector G-15/4 in Islamabad in 2015 that is being run successfully. It is a profit-making Centre that is producing manure for nurseries, parks and house-gardens. It needs only one kanal of land and some structure to cater the need of a sub-sector.

Jawed Ali Khan urged the government to make it mandatory for every housing society, public or private, to have its own waste management system, sewage treatment and clean air mechanisms.

Asid Shuja Khan said Pakistan is producing 50 million tons of garbage daily that lacks proper disposal mechanisms. We need a national strategy followed by a doable action plan, legislation to support the strategy. He said we need to have an inclusive participation and engagement of different stakeholders, a realistic approach towards waste collection and management, training of the staff engaged in, and more importantly public awareness to reduce their waste and playing their role in its segregation and proper management.

Talking about the landfill site, Asif Shuja Khan said we need to educate the public that it is not as bad as it is being projected by the vested interest groups. In an IWMS, only 15 percent of the waste goes to the landfill site, adding he said, it does not include hospitals’ toxic or the industrial waste.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed said land mafia agents are opposing the Sangjani landfill site and inciting public protests in connivance with the land mafia. Some of the government officers and pseudo environmentalists are also engaged with the land mafia to build up an opinion against the proposed landfill site. Some black sheep environmentalists and technical experts did the same in the case of Kurri Road landfill site that was ultimately grabbed by a land mafia.

ISWM expert Saadat Ali said a landfill site has a nine layer protection to avoid any leachate. Kurri landfill site had to be built on the same standards approved by the US-EPA but somehow successfully maneuvered by the vested interest groups. The government should allow only a landfill site that fulfills the standards of international best practices. It is unfortunate that only 60 per cent of the garbage is collected and even that is disposed of properly.