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August 4, 2020

Why not turn waste into energy?

Islamabad

August 4, 2020

Islamabad:Municipal waste (kachra), not only in Karachi but in all the cities and towns of country has become a big source of concern for the municipal corporations.

Back in 1992 the situation of garbage collection and disposal was not such a big issue in Islamabad but still those responsible for the task in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) were looking for ways and means to manage municipal garbage disposal because people have already started criticizing open dumping of garbage.

Then the ‘Landfill technique’ was adopted by the CDA to prevent obnoxious stench and presence of carrion birds as well as unwanted wild animals like wild bores, jackals, stray dogs and rodents.

At that time a Pakistani-American man approached the CDA with a big idea for municipal waste and sewage management. He proposed to CDA to provide him a piece of land in Sector I-13 (probably) to set up an incinerator as well as access to manage the existing as well as future sewage treatment plants in the federal capital.

He proposed that he will be responsible for collection and disposal of all the municipal waste and will manage the only sewer treatment operating at that time and in return he promised that he will provide enough electricity produced from the incinerator that would be sufficient to meet federal capital existing and future power demands.

He also asked the CDA to lay two water supply pipelines while developing future sectors where he will also provide hot water to the domestic as well as commercial consumers, all free of cost. The three conditions he put forth were allotment of a piece of land to install the incinerator, that all the municipal waste would be collected by him to be used in incinerator and the manure cakes which will be produced from the sewage treatment plant, which he said that he will sell in the market.

The offer got lost somewhere in the bureaucratic red-tape and the gentleman returned to the US, obviously disappointed! While looking at the situation of municipal waste in cities like Karachi, Lahore as well as other major cities one wonders if anybody in the government, especially the Ministry of Environment or Climate Change has ever contemplated the idea of setting up big incinerators, at least in big cities like Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Rawalpindi and Islamabad to deal with this issue, which frustrates people as well as the government, particularly during rainy seasons?

Over the last few days we have seen the situation in Karachi where hundreds of tons of municipal has chocked the water courses, causing severe urban flooding. These drains have been fully or partially cleared by scavenging the garbage, mostly plastic material, the bags and the bottles.

The garbage is scavenged from drain nullahs but that is lying right on the brinks and sooner or later it is going to make its way back in these drains and nullahs, once blocking flow of water. We are not sure how much damage to public and private properties this urban flooding has caused in these few days in Karachi alone. The situation in Lahore and some other cities was not much different.

This incinerator technology is being used for over a century in the developed world countries and through the time it has developed so much that this technology, probably called ‘Waste to Energy’, have become the major source of managing municipal waste and getting electricity, hot water and other by-products.