ISSN 2330-717X

Pakistan: Pollution In Quetta – OpEd


Quetta was previously known as ‘Little London’ for its cleanliness, pleasant weather, and natural beauty. After the arrival of the British, a garrison town was established in Quetta, considered as one of the best tourist sites in the undivided India. It was a popular vacation spot for the people of other cities in Pakistan. The pleasant summers and the valley’s snowy winters have attracted many visitors from outside Quetta.


Unfortunately, today the Quetta metropolis is among the second most polluted cities in Pakistan, as reported by Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA). Today, the city portrays a picture of dirty streets, overflowed sewerage lines, and garbage dumps at every street corner. Pollution has also ruined its weather for the locals and visitors. Moreover, it has the worst air quality with poisonous gases and dust compared to other cities in Pakistan.  Natural hazards and human interference, and negligence have worsened the overall environmental situation in Quetta. Accordingly, this article’s primary aim is to bring public awareness and tackle the alarming pollution issue in the capital city Quetta.

The capital city of Balochistan now appears to be in a state of negligence, roads and pathways are broken due to commercial and domestic purposes. Ironically, the roads, streets and pathways are not even repaired after broken and left on the mercy of Metropolitan Corporation Quetta (MCQ) that further pollute the environment. The old city is converted into slums by ignoring the building code and town planning. The outskirts of Quetta are even worse than the inner city. 

Historically, the city was planned to accommodate 1 to 1.5 million people, but currently, around 3 to 3.5 million people reside. It is alarming to note that the population flood is the leading cause of pollution in the city. The administration cannot consolidate the resources to facilitate the outnumbered people in the city. The outnumbered population are burden on the resources of the city. Constant traffic jam cause air and sound pollution. There are no traffic lights throughout the city, and traffic faces hurdles, blockages, and slow motion. Therefore, Quetta’s existing road network will no longer be able to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles. 

Due to a lack of necessary facilities in the province, people of rural areas rushed to the city and settled here permanently. People living in the city still depend on the burning of wood for their daily lives, resultantly greenery is diminishing in Quetta city. Counting for the reasons, decreasing greenery is the less availability of water and the careless attitude of citizens. Obvious known fact that everywhere air pollution is the leading cause of heat strokes and breathing problems. Environmental hazards are compromising the health and economy of the city. Ironically, there are various unregistered industries and factories that not only harm the environment but also are the major cause of emission of poisonous gases.

The sad fact is that the residents of Quetta dump trash and garbage in the sewerage line, further deteriorating the city’s sewerage system. Resultantly, a few drops of rain make the city flooded. Such a situation pollutes the city, and the poisonous waste and water enter houses and buildings. Similarly, throwing plastics in drainage lines also halts the flow of wastewater. This affects the traffic flow and presents Quetta city’s plight.    


To solve the issue, the people of Quetta need to make efforts for the cleanliness and green environment. Government institutions failed in the proper disposal of waste. MCQ is ignoring the primary job for which they have been inducted. Unluckily, CCTV video shows that employees of MCQ are stealing the iron cover installed on the drain water sewerage pipeline. Advanced vehicles and types of machinery are available with MCQ, but the poor governance and preference for personal benefit over the national responsibility results in failure. 

Although it is clear that environmental degradation is a global issue and pollution cannot be controlled by individual efforts alone. Instead, it needs the collective efforts of the general masses and the responsible authorities. In this context, Quetta Cantonment is the example where drainages are clear, watering of plants and greenery in various public gathering points are visible and properly maintained. Quetta Muree-a-bad, located near the mountainside, is clean, and the residents maintain the cleanliness and water pouring into trees compared to other parts of the cities.  One of the methods to curb air pollution is to cultivate small-scale gardens and give proper maintenance as a civic responsibility. 

Carbon footprint can be reduced by lessening the use of plastic bags. Dumping the wastage needs proper mechanisms and human resources. Expeditious urbanization without proper town planning is the major problem and obstacle in promoting a healthy and green environment in the Quetta city.  The current situation is expected to worsen due to the lack of an inactive action plan from the government’s side and a failure of concerned authorities to take note of the urgency of the situation. Hence, the main aim of highlighting this pressing issue in the light of prevailing environmental risk is to remind the relevant authorities of the detrimental ramifications to the city’s environment. According to Holy Quran, “cleanliness is half of faith”, but people do not heed cleanliness in true spirit.

The writer is working as a Research fellow at Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN) at BUITEMS, Quetta. 

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