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Over 31,000 tonnes of waste from sacrificial animals has been lifted from various areas of Karachi during the Eid Al Adha holidays. Image Credit: Shanavas Jamal Al Deen/Gulf News Reader

Karachi: Exasperated by the municipal waste disposal in the city, Karachi’s Mayor Waseem Akhtar has demanded altogether shutting down the provincial government’s agency tasked with garbage lifting in the commercial capital and biggest port city of the country. The Karachi mayor has called for disbanding the “Sindh Solid Waste Management Board” the agency responsible for municipal waste disposal in the city that works under direct the supervision of the provincial chief minister.

Ironically, the Karachi’s mayor lacks the authority to manage and run the waste disposal system of the city. This reflects the fact that Karachi’s system of municipal governance including the mayoral office lacks the authority it deserves to manage affairs of the city.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan often has expressed his vision that the mayor of Karachi should be given the powers at par with his counterparts in developed cities like New York, London, and Tokyo. For this the PM envisions that the mayor of a city like Karachi should be elected through direct election as in the case of modern cities around the world. He also desires that the Karachi mayor should have complete authority to generate revenue for development of the city. The PM has yet to implement his vision about mayoral offices anywhere in Pakistan.

The incumbent Karachi mayor has also often complained that he utterly lacks the authority to manage municipal affairs of the city so he has no or limited role to develop Karachi.

His current demand that the provincial solid waste management authority be disbanded has come following the mass sacrificing of animals on the three days of Eid Al Adha in an uncontrolled manner which generated an unbearable burden on the waste disposal system of the city. Unattended waste of sacrificial animals creates filthy scenes in the city often shared by concerned citizens on social media to present prevailing unhygienic conditions in the city.

“Such highly random throwing of animal waste could cause an outbreak of infectious diseases anytime in the already overburdened and overcrowded residential areas with dilapidated infrastructure in Karachi,” said Saquib Ejaz Hussain, a senior Karachi-based environmental consultant.

He said that in most of the areas of Karachi, the civic situation had been already pathetic with unattended municipal waste, sewerage lines blocked and resulting overflowing sewage water even in posh localities of the city and with these scattered unattended offal and other parts of animal waste, the situation is likely to be worse.

Roshan Ali Shaikh, Secretary of Sindh Government’s Local Government Department - the arm of provincial government which supervises municipal systems across the province - said that till August 2 the first two days of Eid Al Adha, around 31,670 tonnes of waste of the sacrificial animals had been lifted from various areas of Karachi for their proper disposal at the landfill sites.

The unattended remains of sacrificial animals after Eid Al Adha pose double jeopardy in the case of Karachi: the spread of animal-based infectious disease, which shouldn’t happen as the COVID-19 health emergency is not over yet, secondly drainage system of Karachi will be further chocked as there will be increased risk of urban flooding whenever next spell of monsoon rain happens.

The emergency municipal situation persisting in Karachi compelled Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Monday noon (the third day of Eid Al Adha) to start visiting various parts of the city to personally review waste disposal arrangements and to get a first-hand briefing from the head of the provincial solid waste management agency.

While talking to media persons on the occasion, Sindh CM acknowledged that there has been certain lacking on the part of his government to manage affairs of the city while the same are being addressed by working together with municipal agencies.

Karachi generates around 16,000 tonnes of garbage on a daily basis as it contains around 6,500 tonnes industrial and commercial waste as the city lacks any composite, modern, and scientific system to dispose it of safely. Plans earlier made to consume municipal garbage of the city to generate clean electricity were never materialized.

A US$ 200 million World Bank-funded programme is being launched to address solid waste management needs of the city.