Defective sewage disposal system can become a cause of the spread of the Covid-19 in Pakistan especially in a big city like Karachi poses a major challenge during the COVID-19 emergency.
This was one of the major concerns raised by environmental activists who participated in a video conference held by the Central Standing Committee on Environment of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) to mark the 50th year of International Earth Day.
Another serious concern expressed by the participants of the conference was the absence of guidelines in the country for safely sewage disposal or infected trash and clinical waste being generated by isolation and quarantine centres as well as hospitals across the country where COVID-19 patients are being treated, as this issue can create a serious health and environmental emergency.
The concerned participants said that the routine municipal system being used to dispose of garbage of the isolation and quarantine centres as well as hospitals can create a serious environmental hazard that may lead to further spread of the virus in the country.
They lamented that the waste disposal system and practices were not part of the standard operating procedures devised by the federal and provincial governments to isolate and treat COVID-19 patients, as a lack of such protocols can prove disastrous for the environmental conditions of the country that are already very much compromised.
Senior environmental consultant Saquib Ejaz Hussain said that a proper environmental monitoring system should be put in place in the country to assess the positive effects of the current COVID-19 lockdown in terms of the lessening of air pollution.
He said that without such a monitoring system, proper planning cannot be carried out to restart industrial, business and mass travelling activities in the country in the post-lockdown scenario in a regulated and controlled manner so as to sustain the recent improvement in the environmental conditions.
Senior environmentalist Rafiul Haq said that instances of respiratory ailments will continue to increase in the country with the air quality degenerating, as in such a situation immunity of the people against fatal viral diseases like COVID-19 will be compromised.
He lamented that buildings by-laws meant to safeguard the environment are not being implemented in cities like Karachi, as construction is continuously being done at the cost of the environmental conditions.
Ecologist Tofiq Pasha said that developmental activities in urban centres like Karachi have adversely affected the environmental conditions and also hastened the process of climate change.
He said that the improvement in the environmental and climatic conditions during the COVID-19 lockdown have to be sustained by regulating practices like urbanisation and fossil fuel use for transport.
Environmentalist Hina Jamshed said that Third World countries should come up with a proper waste disposal system during the COVID-19 emergency as is being done in the case of the developed nations.