ignoring the growing worldwide concern over waste-to-energy plants and incineration, the district administration in Karachi has tied up with a Malaysian firm to build a similar plant. The project will be the first of its kind in Karachi and will use plasma technology to generate 50 mw power.
Like the rest of Pakistan, Karachi is facing severe power shortage. The city fell short of 200 mw this winter. Authorities hope the plant will help meet the growing demand for electricity. "Power can be generated from organic waste if people have the awareness to sort out organic garbage from the inorganic," says Muhammad Noman, a former consultant to the Karachi Municipal Corporation.
But Karachi's waste segregation system is ineffective. The city generates 6,000 tonnes of solid waste every day, of which 600 tonnes of recyclable waste is separated by housewives, domestic servants and market employees and sold to itinerant waste-buyers who resell this to the recycling industry. The rest of the waste finds its way to neighbourhood collection points.
Experts say the waste produced in Pakistan does not have the calorific value to be converted to energy. "Pakistan's soil is badly affected by the excessive use of fertilizers and it is necessary that the organic matter be used as compost," says wwf's director, environment, Hammad Naqi Khan. "Such quick solutions are discouraging our indigenous recycling sector," he says. Karachi does not have any regulations on dioxins, says to the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency's former director-general Iqbal Saeed. He says burning waste will release hazardous matters and the heavy particulate matter will not go up in the air and will cause health and environmental problems.
Describing incineration as unhealthy, Ata-Ul-Haq, ceo of the Green Technology Environmental Corporation in Lahore, which set up Pakistan's first mega composting plant in 2006, says that " saarc countries agree that incineration and unproven technologies such as plasma should not be considered for the treatment of municipal sold waste of low calorific value and environmental pollution potential". An official in the Sindh government says environmental concerns are not in the administration's priority list. He says huge funds for biogas projects in Sindh are lying unused.
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