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Two years after approval Solid waste management project fails to take off

Construction work on Rs1 billion project for establishment of solid waste management plant in Peshawar could not be started even two years after its approval, as residents of Garhi Baghbanan, where the plant would be build, continue to oppose it, sources said.

Officials of the municipal corporation, Peshawar, said that once established the plant would be used to recycle heaps of garbage, currently seen on the roadsides and dumped at the corners of streets on the outskirts of the city.

The decision to set up the waste management plant in Garhi Baghbanan, located on southern periphery of Peshawar, was taken in 2010, officials told Dawn. A year after that, an agreement was made in 2011 with Karachi-based consortium of private companies PNO. Four companies, including Wast Buster Lahore, Invisor Karachi, Xenel and Balderrie of Germany, work under the PNO umbrella.

However, despite the lapse of over two years, the plant couldn’t be established owing to strong opposition from residents of Garhi Baghbanan. The officials claimed that the residents had not expressed any reservations about the plant project when the provincial government and consortium officials would visit the site in initial stages.

However, they said that local people started opposing the project when construction of the plant began in early 2012, saying that could cause health and environmental hazards in the area. They said that some local politicians might have instigated these people to rise against the plant construction.

The officials said that first work on the plant had been briefly delayed owing to bad law and order situation, but further delay could cause termination of the agreement for establishing the plant.

The solid waste recycling plant would convert tons of garbage into organic fertilizer and household items. Under the agreement, the civic bodies in Peshawar were be bound to provide 500 tons of solid waste to the plant otherwise they would pay penalty to the plant administration. The plant administration would pay Rs100 per ton of garbage to civic bodies. Besides, around 600 local people would be provided jobs.

The plant is supposed to be handed over to the provincial government after remaining under the company’s supervision for 21 years, they said. The officials said that elders of the local population had agreed some six months ago to allow the construction company if they would build a high school, health unit and a road connecting the area with Peshawar. The government and consortium had accepted their demands and work on extension of road had already commenced.

When contacted, deputy commissioner Mohammad Javed Marwat told Dawn that in a meeting with residents a month ago they had sought time for consultation concerning launch of construction work on the plant. “I hope the matter will be resolved in the next meeting,” he said.

Deputy Speaker Khushdil Khan, who heads a committee formed to resolve the issue, said that the matter was still unresolved as construction of a high school and health unit was not yet started. A senior official in the municipal corporation told this reporter that they had conveyed to the deputy commissioner to take stern action against the elements opposition establishment of the plant.

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