Dubai’s Sewage Problem Raises a Stink

DUBAI - The picture of ‘High Life’ Dubai turns grim as one passes along the many labour accommodations in the Al Quoz and Sonapur areas.

By Riyasbabu And Joy Sengupta

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Published: Fri 9 Jan 2009, 1:21 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:35 AM

These men, toiling every day in the construction industry to make Dubai the most happening city in the world, are literally living amidst foul smell, raw sewage and dirt for months now.

Though the Dubai Municipality has, and is taking several steps to contain the problem, the menace does not seem to cease.

It is not only the labourers who are caught in this awkward situation but also residents who go through this mucky situation everyday of their life. Residential areas such as the International City have also been hard hit by the sewage hazard.

For the last three months, labourers in Al Quoz and Sonapur have bitterly complained of living amidst sewage waste in their vicinity with stench emanating from it.

The civic body has however directly blamed owners of these labour accommodations, for negligence and not taking the necessary precaution of emptying cess-pit tanks in time, thus resulting in an overflow.

“The sewage problem remains unsolved because the companies responsible to collect the waste from the respective accommodations have not done so. This causes the accumulation and overflow from the tanks to the roads,” said Salem Mesmar, the Assistant Director General for Health, Safety and Environment Control Sector.

These accommodations are not properly connected to the drainage system and the companies responsible for the discharge of sewage waste from labour accommodations to the Al Awir Sewage Treatment Plant have failed to comply with the requirements.

Since these tankers make between Dh1500 to Dh2000 per trip, the tanker drivers find it convenient to discharge the waste in open areas, so that they can rush to make more trips. A source claimed that they sometimes have to wait in the queue for 6 to 7 hours.

This menace has also caused a severe health hazard forcing the civic body to act tough.

Mesmar said that the civic body is aware of the situation and is doing everything possible to end the crisis. He said that stern action and penalties will be imposed against companies that violate the law. The civic body said it was the responsibility of the owners of the building to ensure the sewage waste is properly discharged from the labour accommodation.

They must ensure that the sewage is emptied on time and there is no overflow.

The official said the responsibility of sewage treatment in the residential areas like International City is on the developers and they should find a solution in case of sewage leakage.

However, companies said the major cause of the sewage problem is the handling capacity of Al Aweer sewage and treatment plant.

“The tankers have to wait for long hours to dispose the sewage and hence they are reluctant to collect the sewage from the camps,” said a construction company official, who maintained anonymity.

“The authorities should find an alternative solution for sewage disposal, as we are helpless,” said the company official.

Hike in Fines

As one of the steps, the civic body has called for a tenfold hike in fine against camp owners for failing to keep them clean and hygienic.

“At present, the fine is Dh1, 000 and will be increased to Dh10,000 soon. The owners have to ensure that their labour camps are clean and the sewage tankers are emptied everyday. Most of them don’t take this responsibility seriously and a hike in penalty is essential,” Mesmar said

Also, the illegal dumping of sewage has called for a fine of Dh100, 000, the official said.

“Earlier we had introduced a fine of Dh50,000 on any tanker caught dumping sewage in the open. The fine was then increased. Also, our inspectors are vigilant on areas generally used by these tankers to dump sewage. 
“The DM has also announced a cash reward of Dh2000 for anyone who gives information about illegal sewage dumping.

“Also inspections are frequently conducted at the labour accommodations in many areas,” the official said.

Unbearable Stench

Ullas Raghavan, a labourer living in one of the sewage flooded accommodation in Al Quoz said, “It is impossible to live like this. Now the sewage has flooded everywhere and it become a breeding place for mosquitoes. The stench is also unbearable.”

Expressing the same sentiments Abid Hussien, a Pakistani labourer in Sonapur said “We spend all our spare time inside the camp as it is impossible to freely move outside because of the foul smell.”

Residents of International City also complained about the sewage situation saying that that the England and Russia cluster of the residential area have been submerged with sewage waste.

Reji Thomas, a resident of England cluster said, “The roads in the entire vicinity is flooded with sewage water and is un-accessible with many vehicles bogged-down, and people cannot move freely,” he said.

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