KARACHI: A cleanliness campaign by the Jafaria Disaster Management Cell (JDC) came to halt on its 15th day after police arrested their volunteers and drivers on Friday when they protested outside Chief Minister House with dumpers full of garbage.
JDC spokesperson Oun Abbas told The Express Tribune said that they have been collecting garbage from across the city for the last 15 days and on Friday they wanted to protest outside Chief Minister House to make the government aware of its responsibility.
Abbas said that it started on Friday morning, when the police at alAsif Square deliberately flattened the wheels of seven of their dumpers and later Jamshed Town police arrested a driver and impounded a dumper and loader at Numaish Chowrangi. He also mentioned that six of their volunteers were arrested by Soldier Bazaar police but they were released in the afternoon.
Abbas said they started their campaign on July 22 from Numaish Chowrangi and went on to clean parts of Orangi, Malir, Shah Faisal, Korangi, FB Area and North Nazimabad. He explained that the campaign involved students from various universities and celebrities to make their cause to clean the city. Till now the group has collected 275 dumpers worth of garbage and dumped it at the land fill site in Surjani Town.
The spokesperson denied allegations that they planned to dump the garbage in front of CM House and said they just wanted to peacefully protest. Abbas said a delegation from their organisation had attended a meeting with Karachi commissioner Ejaz Ahmed Khan in the evening. Later, a delegation met the CM and presented their suggestions on how to deal with the city’s solid waste.
Jamshed Town SP Tahir Noorani said the volunteers and machinery had blocked Numaish Chowrangi, which is why they were taken into custody. Noorani confirmed that they have released the driver and handed over the machinery, adding that he has no concern with the campaign and they can continue it as long as they do not take the law into their own hands.
Khan said he has directed all deputy commissioners to collect garbage in their respective districts. The commissioner added that with limited resources it is not possible to clean the city’s mess in a matter of days and it will take time to ensure a clean city. He added that it is a good sign that civil society is taking initiative to clean the city and together with them we can make our city garbage free.
“When it comes to garbage we often blame the mafia that’s involved in garbage collection, forgetting that even we have a role to play in this game,” said Environmentalist Tofiq Pasha. He said civil society should definitely play a role in preserving the environment. “In civilized societies people show consideration about themselves, their neighbors and the environment,” he said.
“They separate organic waste and packaging material waste, the latter consists of paper and chemically formed product. However, in Pakistan everything is dumped together and heaps of these lie outside on the road,” he lamented.
“We have a problem with the collection of garbage, we do not have a proper mechanism in place as far as garbage collection in smaller localities is concerned, however, posh localities like Defence do have a proper garbage collection system intact,” he said.
Where the smaller localities are concerned, garbage is usually dumped in some vacant plot from where ‘rag-pickers’ come and collect garbage and sell it off.