ISLAMABAD-Rampant open garbage burning in the streets of federal capital has increased risk for serious respiratory diseases and skin complications among Islooites.

Reports by Human Rights Watch found that those living near open burning reported an array of health problems consistent with the frequent and sustained inhalation of smoke from the open burning of waste.

These included chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coughing, throat irritation, skin conditions, and asthma.

In many cases, interviewees described a temporal relationship between the burning of waste and their health condition; some developed a condition after the burning started or they moved to an area where burning was taking place.

Others said their symptoms subsided after a municipality stopped burning or they moved away from an area where burning was taking place, said the reports.

With a heap of two to three kilogrammes or more of trash and dried leaves, puffs of smoke smother the households and surroundings after the garbage is set on fire in the federal capital’s streets, Sania William told APP.

She said it was quite difficult to breathe in the morning hours and at late evening hours whenever any garbage heap was at fire in the street. “I asked a boy in my neighbourhood to avoid putting the garbage at fire where he claimed it to keep dengue mosquitoes at length through its smoke. I cannot understand that how its smoke can prevent dengue mosquitoes which is directly jeopardising our breathing and nervous system,” she added.

She regretted that Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) staff merely sticks to manage garbage collection and dumping which at times go forbidden. She alleged that the garbage collecting staff of the contractor hired for picking up garbage used to empty the waste filled dumpsters and setting the residue trash at fire, she said.

“There should be heavy fines on the perpetrators to curb this foul practice of damaging the environment and human health,” she suggested.

Akram Wayne was of the view that most of the times not only people in the streets rather shopkeepers and hotel owners are also setting the garbage at fire which included polythene bags, organic waste and dirty linen.

He said there had been different encounters of garbage set at fire in the parks, streets, markets and even in the abandoned plots of different sectors which should be dealt with iron hands.

No one from the department concerned talks about damage to human health and environment rather considers it a petty violation. “Unless there is massive sensitisation of all stakeholders on the harmful impacts of garbage burning no stringent action could be made,” he added.

When contacted Director Sanitation IMC Sardar Khan Zimri, he said there had been mere garbage burning encounters at small scale level in streets of various sectors, whereas, the only major garbage fire incident was noted in Aabpara.

A restaurant staff threw some ash of burnt material in the trash trolley that had caught fire and resulted in thick smoke in the area.

“Our staff regularly visits the sectors and whenever there is any individual found burning garbage or organic rubble then we definitely penalise such people to shun this practice. However, it is more the responsibility of the masses to avoid such practice and bring a behavioural change for a clean environment,” he added.