More than half a million people are at risk of serious diseases because more than 300 housing societies are dumping garbage illegally, according to government documents seen by The Nation.

Residents, especially children, living by 11 illegal dumping sites are at greater risk of skin, lungs and stomach diseases because of the pollution and poor sanitation caused by the garbage.

An estimated 6,00 thousand people live close to 11 illegal dumping sites throughout the city. They include settlements at Goppay Raye near Kattar Bund Road, opposite WASA Disposal Station Sabzazar, along Sherakot Drain near F,J and L blocks of Sabzazar, Turkey Camp near C-Block Marghazar, Audit and Accounts Society College Road, opposite Nisar Spinning Mill Sundar-Raiwind Road, Kacha near Ferozepur Road, Kamaha Road near Azam Chowk and Gawala Colony near Harbanspura.  

Lahore’s official waste management company (LWMC) covers only 40 per cent of the city and garbage of those living in the rest of Lahore is dumped on these illegal sites.

Officials estimate that two out of the city’s 8.5 tonnes of solid waste generated every day are dumped illegally.  

Residents living close to these sites criticized the government’s failure to stop illegal dumping.

“We are exposed to diseases due to the environment polluted by garbage. Property mafia has turned thickly populated area to a hell by dumping trash in the close vicinity. No relief is in sight as heaps of garbage are gaining height day by day. It is unfortunate the government is merely acting as a silent spectator”, said Muhammad Naseer, a resident of F-Block Sabzazar close to Shera Kot Drain dumping site.

Environment department officials told The Nation its own waste disposal operation operated by the Lahore Waste Management Company also uses the illegal sites to dump excess garbage. LWMC collects 6.5 tons of solid waste daily and dumps it not only at the legal Mehmood Booti and Lakhodair Landfill sites but also at an illegal dump on Sundar-Raiwind Road. The Army-controlled Defence Housing Authority’s EME sector is dumping garbage illegally near Babu Sabu interchange.

Chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered the clearing of illegal sites and action against all responsible housing societies but no action has been taken. “New landfill sites should be identified for proper disposal of solid waste. Any lacunae in the law regarding action against elements disposing garbage at illegal sites should be immediately removed,” the Chief Minister said at a meeting earlier this week.

The meeting agreed to establish a committee to identify new landfill sites and suggest legal changes to curb illegal dumping.  

“Such directions activate Environment Protection Agency and local governments but only for a brief period. EPA will issue notices to some private and cooperative housing societies and not more than that. Towns will register FIRs and impound trolleys carrying garbage to illegal sites. When the dust settles, the campaign will be stopped and the housing societies would continue to dump garbage at these sites”, said one officer at EPA who desired not to be named.