Archive for September 23, 2008
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.