Yesterday, Dr Irtefaq Ali, former V.C of Karachi University and well known Pakistani scientist introduced Nargis Latif, managing trustee, Gul Bahao to a gathering of senior professors and research scholars of the botany department of Karachi University. Describing Nargis Latif as an old student of the botany department, Dr Irtefaq highly appreciated Nargis’s research work in waste management. The professors said they were acquainted with Nargis’s research work as described in the media and said that trials on an organic fertilizer devised by her were conducted in the department by a former professor, Dr Swaliha Ahmed. Nargis said that research in waste management was a very exciting subject due to the sheer variety and volume of wastage one could experiment with. Nargis said that her “laboratory” was the real world with its problems and markets.
Nargis was informed by the head of the department Dr Zafar Iqbal that work was being done on the recycling of sewage water. Nargis said that she was campaigning for aforestation or greening of the sewage drains so that the dirty water does not enter the seas. She reminded that there is real danger to Karachi’s ports if factory effluents continue to be poured into the seas.
In the meantime Nargis spoke to a gathering of counselors of S.I.T.E and orangi towns who had gathered at the S.I.T.E association auditorium for a seminar arranged by the architecture department of the N.E.D University. Nargis Latif said that it was a rare occasion to see research workers addressing people’s problems. Our universities she said are by and large degree manufacturing factories only. According to her research is not a luxury. It is the need of the hour. Especially in waste management. She said “We cannot stop new kinds of wastage from coming up. Just as we cannot stop industrial progress”. She gave the example of her organization, Gul Bahao, which after years of research has come up with alternative blocks made from plastic waste.
Nargis Latif said that the approach to waste management should be recycling or commercial use of waste. The conventional method of collecting mixed garbage and taking it to land sites is unaffordable, outmoded and unnatural. The situation has become explosive because we are ignoring the agricultural or green aspect of the city as well as its informal cottage industry sector. She regretted that we have a very negative approach towards cattle pens. What is needed is a scientific and hygienic use of organic waste as fodder for livestock. Organic waste she said is ideal for rearing livestock and nurseries where apart from ornamental plants expensive medicinal plants can also be grown.
She said that aforestation needs to be done along the big nullahs of the city and its wood grown commercially to be used for growing furniture or fuel so ultimately less and less sewage water goes into the sea. She said an integrated approach is required to connect the U.Cs and recycling work. A system needs to be evolved where by the U.Cs may charge fees or rentals for the use of organic wastage separated at source. For instance cattle or sheep may be allowed to graze near Kachra Kundis where organic waste is separated. This grazing may be done for limited time that is from five o’clock to seven in the morning or late in the evening from six to nine. Similarly nurseries may be bound to buy organic waste for use as natural fertilizer. Also for dry or recyclable waste, junk shops may be encouraged to buy wastage from homes. She said that this will result in the withering away of the Kachra Kundis. According to her all these measures.
Nargis Latif said that the informal sector no doubt is playing a big role in recycling but it needs to be upgraded and managed and organized in scientific way. Scavenging she said is not the ultimate answer. Instead an integrated approach involving Kabaris, Counselors, research workers, livestock owners, nursery owners, house keepers and media should be taken.