LAHORE: The Walled City is an example of our rich heritage that we used to proudly showcase to the world. Due to apathy of the authorities concerned today it gives the look of a shanty town with litter lying open in the streets and nullahs that have never been cleaned and give you foul smell in which it becomes difficult to breathe especially if you are a visitor. Imagine the lives of people living there.  

The Nation conducted a survey of the area. The results were shocking and disturbing at the same time. Waste and garbage that had perhaps not been collected for weeks at the Bhatti Gate’s Hakimawallah Bazaar tells the whole story. Bilawal Safdar, an MBBS student who lives in the area, told The Nation that it was not a one day affair but had been continuing for long. “It is unfortunate but people have got used to the situation. Every day it is a challenge for us as all the waste is dumped at this ‘open temporary waste transfer station’. Our life has become unbearable as authorities have neglected this area,” Bilawal.

Pride of performance Award winner guitarist Sajjad Tafu who has his own house in the area has left it and taken a house on rent in Gulberg. “The area is no good. My children are growing up. I want them to grow up in clean environment,” he said.

Another resident Mubashir said that waste has often been collected from the dumping station but there should be proper mechanism and it should be covered. “The presence of huge pile of garbage disturbs all the people,” he said.      

Walled City areas have been divided among three authorities when it comes to the question to collect waste. The nearby places of the historical and cultural monuments, buildings particularly the royal trail which goes from Delhi Gate to Masjid Wazir Khan falls under the jurisdiction of Walled City of Lahore Authority.

The areas where majority of citizens of Walled City live including the congested streets, roads and drains are fall in the jurisdiction of Lahore Waste Management Company which operates along with Turkish company Albayrak Pakistan, while the nullahs, and big drains of the vicinity fall under the jurisdiction of Water and Sanitation Authority (Wasa). Wasa is responsible for keeping these drains clean.

Asad Ahmed, a spokesman for the LWMC, said the company regularly visits and collects garbage from Temporary Waste Transfer Station to ensure that residents of the nearby areas do not face inconvenience.

“Walled City has narrow streets, so we used to collect the garbage manually that is picking it up by hand, which is later dumped at the temporarily built station. It is later picked by dumpers and containers. The exercise is done daily,” the spokesman said.      

“We try our best to keep the area environmentally good. If there are any loopholes we will look into them and try to improve the situation,” Asad said.

Monsoon has started but unfortunately the nullah of the walled city which is from Dehli gate to Taxali gate has not been cleaned and may not be functional if rain comes. It is full of litter.

Jamshed Ali, resident of Lahori Gate and a rickshaw driver said they live in constant fear of over flooding of the nullah. “People used to drop the garbage in nullah instead of appointed dust bins and the habit will cost the residents a lot if the nullah overflows during rains. Water may enter people’s houses and cause a lot of damage,” he said.

WCLA spokeswoman Taniya Qureshi said that WCLA was fully aware of the challenge of waste management system in Walled City areas. “Currently WCLA has 25 sanitary workers who keep clean the Royal Trail located from Delhi Gate to Mosque Wazir Khan, which includes 57 streets, 800 buildings and 3 monuments. They do it with sweeping machines specially imported for this purpose.

“A meeting was chaired by CM Shehbaz Sharif last week where it was decided to make Royal Trail waste collection and cleaning system role model and to extend it to whole Walled City. And, for this we are making initial assessments and will move the summery to CM after Eidul Fitr,” she said.