LAHORE - The Punjab capital city is to get three new landfill sites to stop illegal garbage dumping, officials told The Nation yesterday.

The government disclosed this plan amid reports that more than half a million people living close to 11illegal dumping sites are facing serious health risks due to pollution and improper sanitation.

The illegal dumps have sprung up through the south of the city because of the severe shortage of waste disposal sites.

Senior Environmental Protection Agency officials told The Nation that three new official sites will be created in the south Lahore to stop illegal dumping of garbage.

Purpose built dumping sites will facilitate private and cooperative housing societies and they will not need to travel 30-40 kilometre for disposal of garbage at Mehmood Booti.

For avoiding such a long travel in traffic congestion, the private contractors dump garbage in open fields, exposing people residing nearby to skin, lungs and stomach diseases.

To the hue and cry of affected people, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif recently ordered action against illegal dumping and identification of suitable places for establishment of legal landfill sites in the south.

“Mehmood Booti dumping site has almost reached to its capacity. However, garbage generated in the north could go to Lakhodair Landfill Site. The real problem is proper disposal of garbage in the south. The problem will go bigger and bigger as the Lahore is expanding in the south,” said EPA Director Nasimur Rehman Shah.

“We are carrying out survey for identifying suitable places for establishing three dumping sites in the south. One each dumping site will be established on Raiwind Road, Ferozepur Road and Multan Road. These sites will facilitate housing societies in the south to dump garbage at a short distance. The new sites will definitely help stopping illegal dumping of garbage,” he added.

Regarding measures for checking illegal dumping, he said that local governments could take action under Punjab Local Government Act 2015. Hopefully, the process will start after the new local bodies come into power, he said.

“The law already exists. Local governments will assume powers after completion of election process. They will formulate strategy for implementation of relevant clauses of the PLGA 2015 for checking illegal dumping of waste. Enforcement of law and availability of legal sites nearby will help stopping illegal dumping of garbage,” Nasim said.

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