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September 20, 2019

Lakhodair landfill site lacks operational machinery


September 20, 2019

LAHORE: The new management of Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) continues to allow waste dumping on the only scientific landfill site of the country, which is still lacking necessary operational machinery, reducing its performance and damaging its basic structure constructed with around Rs1 billion.

The scientific landfill site was constructed some four years back at Lakhodair to protect the underground water table of the provincial capital from hazardous chemicals, but scientific disposal of waste remained a dream for the citizens as a result of which they are forced to drink the poisonous water.

The landfill site contained a network of drains to collect leachate (liquid released by solid and other waste during decomposition process) and pumping system to pump it to the surface where it can be treated. Ground wells are also drilled into and around the landfill to monitor groundwater quality and to detect any contamination.

Environmental experts said that scientific disposal of waste keep groundwater pure and clean, which is the main source of drinking water in many communities. On the other hand, the existing scientific landfill site has turned into a dumping ground.

Sources in LWMC’s scientific landfill site revealed that heaps of garbage dumped on the site reached a height of around 80 feet whereas according to the Urban Unit’s recommendations such heaps should not exceed the height of 20 feet.

LWMC Managing Director Ajmal Bhatti talking to The News claimed that his management was making the all-out effort to operate the landfill site on a scientific manner. Responding to another question about removing the ‘mountains’ of garbage from the scientific cells of the landfill site, he replied that it was impossible. Sources said that the ‘mountains’ of garbage emerged as the LWMC had no compactor, one of the basic machines, to operate scientific landfill site. They said if the patron of garbage dumping remained the same the landfill would become full in the next six months to one year. However, LWMC MD said the site could handle garbage dumping for the next two to three years.

Sources revealed that for the last many months senior manager landfill was working as acting senior manager operations which means hehimself was lifting waste and verifying it at the landfill site. Sources said officers at landfill sites were supposed to verify the waste content and make deductions but in this case both the acts were being done by a single person.

LWMC inaugurated the country’s first ever scientific waste disposal site at Lakhodair on April 18, 2016 and till then the site is being operated unscientifically, said a senior official of LWMC seeking anonymity. He claimed that cancellation of two tenders regarding the purchase of heavy compacter was also fishy while the tender of third and forth cells of the site was also delayed.

When contacted, senior manager landfill said transfer stations and weybridge are two monitoring mechanisms due to which no one can make any wrong doing. He also claimed that both the jobs, which he is doing, are not in conflict with each other.

LWMC MD over dual appointment said the issue had already been pointed out to him but he was short of technical staff. He said as soon as he gets new staff, all empty slots will be filled.

Chairman, LWMC, Riaz Hameed said Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was very concerned about the deteriorating condition of scientific landfill site. He said the CM has recently constituted a committee to finalise the fate of LWMC as well as streamlining the affairs of landfill site. He said Urban Unit and technical experts of SWM were also assigned to assist LWMC in running the landfill site in a scientific manner.

Meanwhile, recently Urban Unit conducted a scientific assessment of the existing landfill site using drone technology. The objective was to identify major shortcomings in the way of better site management, prepare guidelines for efficient use of site and also suggest remaining usable life of the existing site.

The Urban Unit joined hands with Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) to conduct a detailed drone study of the site. Furthermore, water table depth was assessed along with soil testing. The results would be analysed to prepare guidelines for efficient and safe use of the site.

Chairman LWMC concluded that this assessment was first of its kind in Pakistan where high-tech droning technology was used to assess a waste dumping site. The outcomes of assessment would be helpful in better operations at the site and extending its useful life.