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August 6, 2019

1.8m plastic bags to pollute City on Eid


August 6, 2019

LAHORE: Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) may further pollute the provincial metropolis on coming Eidul Azha by distributing 1.8 million biodegradable bags among the citizens as such bags had already been proved an environmental hazard worldwide.

The decision to provide 1.8 million biodegradable bags on Eid among the citizens was announced by LWMC Chairman Riaz Hameed Chaudhry in a joint press conference along with LWMC Managing Director Ajmal Bhatti, Lahore Commissioner Asif Bilal Lodhi and DC Saleha Saeed here Monday.

It is pertinent to mention that Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Punjab, has already declared biodegradable plastic bags harmful for environment. A recent research by EPD showed that biodegradable bags comprised of very harmful chemicals such as chromium, cobalt, nickel etc. “During the process of degradation, these harmful chemicals seeped into the soil and underground water bodies resulting in increased soil and water pollution,” said Naseem-ur-Rehman, EPD Director.

Astonishingly, when asked LWMC MD Ajmal Bhatti said he didn’t know about the latest research or worldwide phenomenon about the negative impacts of biodegradable bags on environment. Similarly, LWMC’s spokesman said that he would respond after consulting with some environmental experts.

On the other hand, Naseem-ur-Rehman, spokesman for EPD said that decomposing of bags sounds environment-friendly but it requires a lot of energy and bags do not degrade in landfills and leave toxic leftovers. “This is why European Union has also started discouraging the use and production of biodegradable plastic and bags”, he maintained.

He claimed that the European Plastics Recyclers Association had warned that the biodegradable plastic items had the potential to do more harm to the environment than good. “Oxo-degradable" plastics are made to degrade in the presence of oxygen and sunlight with a chemical reaction with tiny amounts of metals like Cobalt, Nickel, Chromium, Iron and etc, Naseem said adding these bags are also not suitable for recycling with other plastics, reuse or composting.

Meanwhile, LWMC hierarchy in Monday’s press conference disseminated its plan of sanitation arrangements for upcoming Eidul Azha. According to the plans, LWMC was going to make special arrangements for Solid Waste Management (SWM) on the eve of Eidul Azha emphasising on pre-Eid, during Eid and after Eid challenges.

Arrangements have been made in coordination with Turkish Contactors (M/s. Albayrak & M/s. Ozpak) with aim to ensure exemplary cleanliness arrangements for the people of Lahore. All the LWMC staff will remain on board during Eid days to provide efficient cleanliness services to the citizens of Lahore. The standard cleanliness activities will mainly focus on prompt collection, storage, transportation and disposal of animal waste during all three days of Eid.

LWMC chairman said that in order to manage animal waste, LWMC is going to distribute about 1.8 million biodegradable waste bags in Lahore. The waste bags will be made available free-of-cost in respective 296-UC camps, zonal offices, major Masajid / Eidgahs.

Similarly for prompt collection of animal waste, LWMC will hire pickups two days before Eid for garbage bag distribution, awareness and waste collection, he said adding 3,400 pickups would be hired for entire Eid operation. These pickups will be deployed in all UCs of Lahore for collection of animal waste.

LWMC MD said the company would ensure cleanliness of Ijtamai Qurban Gahs by providing additional resources i.e. pickups, containers and trolleys. In addition to containers, 121 temporary waste storage points for animal waste will also be established wherever feasible. LWMC will collect animal waste from all private housing societies by establishing special collection points.

Administration of private societies will be responsible for collection of waste within their premises whereas LWMC will collect and transport waste from designated points only. LWMC MD said that special cleanliness arrangements would be ensured near Eidgahs / Masajid. All religious leaders were requested to sensitise public during Jumma and Eid sermons to cooperate with LWMC and maintain cleanliness.

LWMC will establish Eid Camps in each Union Council of Lahore and in total 296 camps will be established, not only to address the citizens’ complaints but to efficiently coordinate cleanliness activities in the respective UC’s as well. Moreover, awareness material and garbage bags for animal waste will also be made available in these camps.

Lahore Commissioner said a control room would be established in LWMC head office with special focus on coordinating collective operational activities during Eid days. During Eidul Azha department will use rose water for washing purpose to minimise the offal’s smell.

LWMC communication department will also launch a rigorous awareness programme on electronic and print media followed by public service message display across the city and will install 18 model camps in city for distribution of waste bags and dissemination of awareness messages among the masses.

The message to maintain cleanliness during Eidul Azha and use of waste bags for disposal of waste will be propagated. Moreover, Imams of Masajid are also being sensitised to include the topic of cleanliness in their Friday and Eid Day sermons.

Ajmal Bhatti said that LWMC would be providing extraordinary cleanliness services and at the same time people should also cooperate with LWMC to maintain cleanliness and for any waste related complaints please dial 1139 helpline for swift redress or use mobile based application Clean Lahore.