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A major news item “Sindh CM decides to launch waste to electricity project” (BR, Oct. 10) warrants major spade-work before spending people’s tax money on such high-value environment projects.

Two decades back, we were tasked to “study” possibility of using municipal waste to provide fuel for power generation and we had visited such power plants in Chicago (USA) and noted two major issues:

  1. The “quality” of such waste was very important as the “waste-as-a-whole” must reach the power plant. We spent quite some time trying to understand how this would be possible and the “final” resolution was that the waste must be collected at source and not through “kachra mandis” as by then, all paper, card-board and similar material are picked up for direct sale and what is left is very difficult and expensive to burn. You would, thus need to collect all such waste from source/home!

  2. Due to such requirement of combusting very different materials, very expensive and high-temperature processes must be used which could be “unaffordable” and special tariff should be introduced for environmental reasons.

All that time, we were “told” that both above requirements were simply not possible and that we have “enough space” for land-fills. Why such “waste” cannot be collected from source/home is not understandable? Soon after this project study, we had an opportunity to visit Bangladesh as part of an “official” delegation and had opportunity to visit major parts of Dhaka and were really surprised to note that there was no garbage anywhere on the road or the localities we visited. Our hosts informed us that all garbage was collected from source including very home! Also, there was no way of bringing garbage outside as plastic bags were completely banned.

We need to learn a lot from our friends and for Karachi, where environmental degradation has gone to the extreme, we really need to “upgrade” our city’s planning for both garbage handling and sewage treatment (how are we accepting direct sewage discharge to the sea?).

Karachi provides livelihood to millions of Pakistanis and deserves better recognition and stronger will to solve the major issues discussed above.

ENGR. AINUL ABEDIN (KARACHI)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020