Archive for September, 2008
For the last two years, the Harper government has done everything it could to wreck the world’s efforts to fix climate change. Given the “fossil award” by environmental experts, Canada (our Canada!) has been repeatedly voted the WORST country in the world on climate change. Now, it’s election time, and we have to make sure that Harper pays a real price at the polls for his reckless and un-Canadian climate policy.
Our first step is to target 3 of Harper’s top MPs, including Environment Minister John Baird, and try to stop their re-election by telling their constituents just how irresponsible they’ve been, and what they’ve been doing in the name of all Canadians. Our ad campaign is ready to launch in these ridings, but we urgently need Canadian Avaaz members to donate $50,000 this week to get started. Click below to see the ads and donate just $10 or $25:
In an initial 3 target ridings, we’ll be appealing to all voters to help save the planet by voting for the candidate most likely to beat the Conservative candidate. In one riding, we’ll be supporting an NDP candidate, in another a Liberal, in another a Green. We’re making sure to be “tripartisan” – we don’t support any particular party, we just want to make sure the Conservatives pay for their almost criminal record on the environment. A large majority of voters in these ridings oppose Harper, but have split their votes among the 3 progressive parties, so even just a small shift in strategic or “smart voting” to favour the most popular progressive candidate will likely defeat the conservatives. That’s the pitch our ads will make.
There’s so much at stake, and no time to lose, let’s pull out all the stops for Canada, and for the world.
Ricken, Lisa-Marie, Laryn and the Avaaz Canada Team
Trailing rose bush-1
Photo by Saloo Durrani
Surrey, Summer 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
By Ali Raza
OPEN drains in the provincial metropolis release poisonous gases, causing pollution and spreading foul stench.
At least 12 major WASA drains pass through Lahore. These are located on Walton Road, Fruit and Vegetable Market on Ferozpur Road, Bihar Colony, Township, General Hospital, Chungi Amer Sadhu, Satto Kattla, Hudyara, Khurshid Alam Road, Gulberg (near Home Economics College), Canal Park, Shama Cinema, Rasool Park, Samnabad, Gulshan-e-Ravi, Abdul Rehman Road, Fortress Stadium, Mian Mir Colony, Upper Mall, Zafar Ali Road, Mustafabad, Mian Mir Graveyard, Governor’s House, Jinnah Gardens, Lawrence Road, Birdwood Road, Jail Road, LOS Workshop, Samnabad, The Mall, Zoo, Queens Road, Diyal Singh Mansion, Mozang, Lytton Road, Chauburji (near Green Building), Shalimar Road, Shalimar Gardens, Medina Colony, Misri Shah, Shadbagh, Bagh Munshi Ladha, Walled City, Data Nagar and Siddiqpura.
According to officials, these drains discharge water in Ravi River through disposal stations located at Mahmood Booti, Shadbagh, Chota Ravi, Shahdra, Babo Saboo and Satto Katla.
They said drainage system in Lahore was started in 1936. Initially, main sewer lines were laid from McLeod Road to Outfall Road and in Mozang, Krishan Nagar, Sanat Nagar Road, Ravi Road, Gunj Bazar Mughalpura, Shamnagar, Anarkali and some parts of the Walled City. At the time of partition of the sub-continent, the major drains in Lahore were Cant Drain (Mian Mir Drain), Sukh Nehar Drain and Chota Ravi Drain.
They said the drainage and water supply system was handed over to Lahore Improvement Trust (LIT), established in 1967. The LIT constructed drains and laid sewers in Gulberg, Samnabad, Shadbagh and some other areas of the City. They maintained that with the creation of WASA under LDA Act 1975, the system was handed over to WASA except Township and Green Town localities that were controlled by the Housing and Physical Planning Department until 1993.
Another senior WASA official said all open drains were originally constructed to carry rain and flood water but they turned into sewers with the passage of time. He said the WASA constructed main drains such as General Hospital Drain, Maulana Shaukat Ali Road Drain, Habibullah Road Drain, Furkhabad Drain in Shahdra and Ghaziabad Drain between 1987 and 1990. The existing drainage and sewers may carry much water if properly desilted.
Shahid Bhatti, an environmentalist said poisonous gases emanating from open sewers pollute the environment. “Foul odour emanating from these drains discourages economic activity,” he observed.
Open sewers also pollute ground water as sewage seeps into ground, he said and added that this caused various kinds of stomach and liver diseases among people who lived near open drains and drink ground water.
When contacted, WASA Planning Director Zahid Aziz said sewer drains were not covered in majority of developing countries because of lack of funds. He said the agency was planning to construct two underground sewers to transfer sewage of two drains. He said the agency would construct a big conduit to transfer sewage from Cant Drain (formally known as Mian Mir Drain) to Gulshan-e-Ravi Disposal Station. He said this project was very costly and was included in WASA’s future projects.
He said the agency would also construct a big underground sewer in Allama Iqbal Town area and it would carry sewage of Allama Iqbal Town to the Multan Road sewer. He said the agency would start this project very soon.
About contamination of groundwater by sewage, he said the WASA usually pumped ground water from a depth of 500 to 700 feet and seepage from open drains reached a depth of 200 feet. He claimed ground water supplied by WASA to citizens was safe. He said presence of encroachments along open drains was a serious issue and action was needed to resolve it.
LAHORE: The 22 Waste Enclaves that were recently built by the government to store solid waste prior to its disposal have become homes for the homeless and are also being used by couples as ‘safe’ places for illicit trysts, sources within the Solid Waste Management (SWM) told Daily Times on Monday.
The SWM sources said that the use of such sites as homes was resulting in the spread of various diseases and posed an environmental threat as well. The enclave at GOR-I in particular has become a home for one Karim, who along with his wife and three sons, has been living at the WE that is located opposite to the official residence of Lahore District Co-ordination Officer (DCO) Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta for the past few months.
Karim told Daily Times that the contractor had allowed him to live at the WE if he emptied the garbage containers every day. He said that his family helped him to separate the contents of the containers, so that they could be recycled. The contractor pays wages for the usable waste collected, he added.
Referring to the unhygienic living conditions, he said that his children were suffering from various diseases due to the lack of a healthy diet and exposure to the garbage. He said that his newborn often ate the waste, as the garbage containers had become his playground. Karim also said that his family was using the plastic bottles disposed off by GOR-I residents as their water bottles. He said that he had no other option for a residence, as he was too poor to afford any rent.
Removal: SWM Executive District Officer (EDO) Mudasser Waheed Malik told Daily Times that it was very harmful for anyone to reside at the waste disposal sites. He said that he would ensure that all such illegal occupancies were removed within days.
However, the homeless are not the only ones using the enclaves. Encouraged by the privacy granted by the location, SWM sources said that several couples have been using the sites for intercourse. They said that SWM employees usually aided this practice by allowing the couples to ‘rent’ the site for Rs 50. A City District Government Lahore (CDGL) Environment Department official claimed that the enclaves had become prostitution centres. He also said that such sites were built without any proper planning and were often the source of environmental pollution because of the SWM’s negligence.
Health risk: Pakistan Medical Society (PMS) President Dr Masood Sheikh said that any activity near or at the waste disposal sites was dangerous for a person’s health. He said that hookworms and tapeworms could easily infect someone, causing anaemia. He said children infected by such parasites often had long nights filled with itching, and also suffered from diarrhoea and typhoid. He said that 10 percent of the country’s population was the victim of Hepatitis B and C, and blades and needles used by such patients were often thrown into the garbage. He said that children playing in that garbage could easily become victims of such diseases.
Dr Sheikh also said that any form of intercourse in such places could result in urinary tract infections. He said that being around the waste sites could also worsen the health of people suffering from asthma.
By Rana Kashif
LAHORE: The Food Department of the City District Government Lahore (CDGL) has started a campaign to create awareness among the masses to destroy disposable soft drink bottles after use to avoid their being refilled with fake drinks that can damage health.
A district food department official told Daily Times on Sunday that the sale of fake drinks in the used bottles of international brands was on the rise in the city. He said such businessmen hired scavengers, to collect plastic and glass bottles from heaps of rubbish and CDGL containers and reused them. The scavengers sell the bottles to businesses, after which the plastic bottles are recycled, however, the glass bottles are rinsed, refilled and sold. The official said that the Food Department had confiscated over 6,000 fake bottles from different parts of the city, adding that the department had been launching campaigns to stop their sale for years.
Meanwhile, consumers regularly face difficulty in finding original soft drinks, especially with the increase in their demand during the Ramazan season. A consumer, Muhammad Abid, said: “If you want to ensure that the soft drinks you are buying are real, then they should be purchased from a reputable shop otherwise there is no guarantee.”
Health: General Hospital Additional Medical Superintendent (AMS) Dr Ziaullah Cheema told Daily Times that fake drinks directly affected the stomach, which could result in multiple complications, including acidity, indigestion, diarrhea, dysentery as well as dental problems. Fake drinks also carry the risk of hepatitis and jaundice, he added.
Disposal: District Food Officer Dr Masood Ashraf said that, “The department has confiscated a large number of counterfeit drinks from different parts of the city. During the last two days the department has confiscated more than 3,000 such drinks which, besides being fake, were filled in used bottles.”
To questioning on the department launching unsuccessful campaigns for many years, he replied, “It is correct, but one of the major reasons is that there is no proper awareness among the masses about how to dispose of the bottles.” He said that plastic bottles should be destroyed by making holes in them and glass bottles should be broken from the neck.
He said that the department, on the directions of the district co-ordination officer, had started a formal campaign to create awareness among the masses. He also said that the campaign was being launched through television, radio, pamphlets, seminars and banners apprising citizens on how to destroy used bottles. He added that cases been registered against those found involved in the illegal business.