Karachi has been going through a tough time getting rid of its garbage for a while now. Despite there being a ban on throwing garbage in the open in this Pakistani city for the last two years, things have not been running smoothly. But it looks like the authorities are taking things up a notch. On Tuesday, September 24, Sindh’s Information Minister Saeed Ghani announced a reward for anyone who “films and identifies people who throw garbage” on the streets of Karachi. While announcing the WhatsApp numbers for the clips of the perps to be sent on (03000074296 and 03000084296), and promising that the identity of whistleblowers will be kept a secret, he also declared the bounty. And it’s no trivial sum: Rs 1 lakh.
On Tuesday, the provincial minister addressed the media and told them that this operation is aimed at creating awareness among residents who throw garbage on the streets rather than their designated areas. "This is a conspiracy to damage the cleanliness drive," he said, about his campaign called ‘Clean My Karachi’ campaign that started last week. Ghani claims that he has personally witnessed people dumping their garbage on the streets and that strict action will be taken against those who throw objects such as stones, blocks or sacks in sewages. However, there is not much clarity on who exactly will win the prize money (we’re assuming that not all whistleblowers will be awarded), and how they will be chosen.
The cleanliness drive in Karachi is being met with a lot of attention, especially because the authorities have a giant task at hand. Reports say that there are 10 years' worth of garbage to be taken care of in this city. Karachi sees almost 13,000 tons of garbage daily, by a population of 13 million residents, of which around 70 percent reaches two landfills. Of that, around five percent has been reported to go to the Arabian Sea despite it being controlled. In fact, this year, Clifton Beach in Karachi saw several kilometres of hazardous medical waste and plastic washing up. Beyond this, around 4.5 tons of garbage has been reported to be left out on the streets of the city on a daily basis.
The authorities have been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism in the middle of all this. Most recently, Pakistani Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar directed the mayor of Karachi to clean up “even if he was forced to collect alms for this.” Last year, Karachi police arrested people for throwing garbage out in the open. Reports also say that the city administration is considering imposing Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on littering, burning of garbage and throwing debris on streets and open spaces. Fines may range between Rs 500 and Rs 50,000, along with possible jail time. It remains to be seen how far the authorities will push to get their trash sorted.
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