LAHORE - Illegal and dangerous practice of burning of solid waste is continuing unchecked in the City. It poses serious health hazards by causing considerable increase in the environmental pollution and the criminal activity on the part of sanitation staff and public at large, mostly scavengers, is also damaging the solid waste containers. Usually scavengers, gardeners and addicts are held responsible for the unfortunate daily routine but Solid Waste Management (SWM) Department staff is also involved for across the metropolis and the dumping sites. City District Government, Environment Department and the sanitation officials are mere silent spectators, thus encouraging the practice with every passing day. According to the insiders, the sanitation staff burns the garbage to reduce the quantity that is much higher than the lifting capacity of SWM, as Lahore, a City of around ten million people, produces over 6,000 ton of solid waste daily. As a result, more than 30 per cent waste remains unattended on the roads and SWM workers burn a large quantity to reduce the volume for easy transportation to the dumping sites. Lack of proper segregation and extraction of recyclable material before dumping, is prompting the scavengers and addicts to burn waste for collecting useful material. Almost every 2nd CDGL container is bearing burning scars. District Officer SWM Mudassar Waheed Malik, however, denies his staffs involvement. I cannot appoint a person on each container. The community should come up and cooperate with the sanitation staff to discourage such an activity. Public should immediately inform the department about any such incident so that action could be taken against the culprits, he replied. He said new infrastructure was needed for meeting the requirement of a City like Lahore and promised that SWM complaint number, 139, would be written on every CDGL container. But ironically, the number cannot be dialled from mobile sets. SWM introduced a master plan in 2007 based on Experience Report of Commission constituted by the Lahore High Court on scientific disposal of solid waste in collaboration with private sector, integrated with Master Plan of Lahore 2021 (NESPAK) and SWM bylaws. The main objective of the plan is zero waste society that includes 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. In this regard, Deputy Director SWM Rafique Jatoi says some strategies of the plan were being adopted like performance based wages to SWM workers that has resulted into 100 per cent lifting of garbage. About the burning of waste, he pointed to the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) that lacks waste lifting system, saying it burns the leaves or throw the garbage in CDGL containers. The SWM is not as much under-resourced as they complain. Increasing the trips of the collection vehicles can enhance the collection, storage and lifting capacity. The containers are left filled for long time, resulting in the over filling and then burning of the waste. DDO Environment Muhammad Younas says there is a culture of laziness among the government employees and a private firm will perform much better with the available resources. The Environmental Department is very concerned over the practice because it is hazardous not only for the environment also the humans. He further informed that issues regarding waste burning on dumping sites like Mahmood Booti are also in court, and the Environmental Department is in liaison with the SWM to curb the routine. But there is hardly any change visible. An integrated effort by the departments concerned to create awareness through media is needed to meet the future challenges because with rising urbanisation and change in lifestyle and eating habits, the amount of municipal solid waste is increasing rapidly and its composition is changing as well. Non-biodegradable waste requires scientific processes for its disposal. However, by developing the recycling industry, the solid waste can be turned into 'solid wealth.