In the foreground is Shilmish habitat across Hunza river. To its south is yet another waste material dump with plastic bags torched causing air-pollution , near the building of the Polytechnic Institute. Photo by: Zahra Kazmee
Reverting again to Gilgit - the provincial metropolis of Gilgit-Baltistan, it may be said that it has long history of its facing innumerable civic problems that stemmed from an indiscriminate urbanization from 1970s onward which straightaway became ascribable to a lack of planning and the absence of a Master Plan put in place to guide the city’s sprawl on scientific lines as already discussed elsewhere in detail. This resulted into the worsening state of the city’s drainage, sewerage, waste management besides compounding intra-city transport system. This resulting to situations threatening public health as civic amenities came under pressure of the growing population and increased commercial and economic activity with its choked road infrastructure calling for handling of the plethoric problems - modern sewerage,/drainage system, enhancing the purity of piped water supply network, improving upon the shabby intra-city transport management and scientific disposal of the waste being produced in the city and in immediate neighborhoods. As regards water supply, a recent report by the federal ministry of science makes startling revelations when it placed Gilgit-Baltistan amongst those areas of the country which have unsafe potable water for human consumption.
It is to be reiterated that Gilgit, which had no special need for a modern sewerage system until the sixties being a tranquil habitat of a simple farming society, has been transformed into a sprawling city and commercial hub with innumerable government and non-government offices lying clustered here. A burgeoning population in the absence of a proper drainage and sewerage system remaining in place, wrought havoc with the erstwhile irrigation as well as drinking water supply system. The the two grand arterial canals (dalejas) built during Dade Juvari era hitherto supplying potable as well as irrigation water to the town literally got converted into gutters. This pathetic landscape led to sharp rise in gastrointestinal diseases among users of these water channels overtime until laying of the present water supply network. But nonetheless, whenever there were heavy rainfalls, these primitive canals laden with clogged sewerage material were unable to carry away the city’s refuse leading to an infernal state especially in the areas from Bazaar area, Majinee Mohellah, Kashrote, Nagaral, Kulchinote, Haiderpura while Barmas, Khorro, Naikoi, Jutial and Khomar lying relatively at height are rather safe.
The perennial waterlogging problem encountered by the dwellers of the central city further makes things worse with the dwellers of the localities like Kashrote, Majini Mohallah and the bazaar area being hit hard. The implementation of the sewerage/drainage project by the previous government of Gilgit-Baltistan, has somewhat assuaged the situation but nevertheless, much more still needs be done to improve upon the system put in place to address litany of problems.
|City Hospital Kashrote Gilgit|
As said before, large and aggressive roots of willow and mulberry trees and at some locations those of the chinar in the case of Gilgit - pose danger to the household septic tanks and encroach upon the related pipe network. When a root encroaches on the pipes and tank, it can lead to backups or other damage in the septic system. To prevent roots from growing around the septic system, all trees have to be kept at least 100 feet away from that part of one's property. For trees with extremely aggressive roots, such as willows, make this distance even greater.
Another threat to a poorly maintained septic system is the contamination of groundwater, which can occur when water waste isn't properly treated within the tank before it reaches the outlet drain. When the groundwater becomes contaminated, it can have ill effects on nearby flora, fauna and bodies of water.
In communities affected by water contamination, illnesses such as typhoid fever, hepatitis and dysentery are common phenomena. The nitrates and phosphates in contaminated water are said lead to conditions such as blue baby syndrome, which is characterized by a newborn's reduced ability to receive oxygen in the blood. Essentially, when every one maintains the health of their septic system, they'll also be doing favors for their own health and that of their loved ones.
Service Issues of Staff
There is firstly the need to strengthen the crucial 'waste management system' in place in the region by bringing the existing staff on to a regular footing and treating them at par with the rest of the provincial government employees in terms of all perks and privileges. It became ascertainable that the officials are not equitably treated disregarding the important role they pay to keep the environment clean which merits unhindered payment of salaries to them from regular budget is concerned. Alongside, 'public waste bins' too, are required to be made available in simultaneous with their lifting/emptying by using hydraulic trucks as being done in other cities.
Further Mechanization of Danyore Facility
It became ascertainable from the Waste Management officials of Danyore tasked with garbage-disposal work as far as Sakwar, Sultanbad, Jutal and sometimes Nomal while they allege that the garbage brought by individuals from the nearby Oshikhandas and Jalalabad according to this claim, is oft-found littered at Torrokee Das which further complicates things and enhances the burden of Waste Management Unit, Danyore who have to remove it by pressing into service the skeletal fleet comprising only 06 Suzuki-lifters. This contention is, however, denied by the inhabitants of those localities who maintain that the litter is disposed of at Torrekee, by the Solid Waste Managers themselves there instead of finding a way out at an appropriate landfill elsewhere. Be it as it may, the scarcity of the existing garbage-lifting machines together with those to siphon off septic tanks of householders, needs be addressed at the earliest to enable the respective employees to extend effective coverage to enable them to effectively extend the service as far as Oshikhandas-Jalalabad, for procurement of six more Suzuki-lifters and placement at their disposal alone would make them well-poised to tackle the situation.
Procurement of light Tankered Mazadas or Shazoure Vans:
It is said that currently, there are one or two mini-trucks fitted with tankers at the Municipal headquarters, available for hiring. These are being pressed into use for pumping out and emptying the sceptic tanks while this mechanism can exclusively be employed for emptying the septic tanks of commercial buildings whereas the households of the Mohellahs with narrow streets where even their long hose doesn't reach - are unable to get the job done. In such cases, smaller or light vehicles fitted with the facility alone can do. For instance, a householder in any Mohellah with such narrow roads if needing to have a septic tank emptied presently, is constrained the truck at higher charges, say, Rs.6-8 thousand for the purpose. In case of availability of the facility of a light vehicle tanker, single households seeking the facility would not be forced to unnecessarily pay double or treble charges as remains the case currently. Moreover, it will become greatly instrumental in generating funds for the management as the services will be oft-hired by the citizenry.