September 22, 2021, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Waste management problem in the Kathmandu Valley

The Nepal Weekly
September 7, 2021

A sustainable system is a must to consider

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

Once again the Kathmandu Valley is witnessed heavy hips of garbage in the nooks, corners and streets. It was seen mostly in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) area. Other 17 municipalities including Lalitpur Metropolitan City and Bhaktapur Municipality also face the problem with more or less similarity. This time the cause is said to be a part road to the dumping site built over the dumped materials has been swept.

Seeking for immediate actions, KMC Mayor, Vice Mayor and others met Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba who instructed concerned authorities to act urgently to solve problem. Consequently lifting of garbage has been started from Saturday September 04. However, it may take a little more time for full-fledged operations.      

The experiences of last 2 decades or more say that such halting of waste lifting take place three to four times in a year. There are some other causes that makes waste lifting from Kathmandu Valley to dump at the designated site used to be disturbed. Mostly the local residents protest demanding the fulfilment of the agreed terms and conditions with KMC as KMC takes the lead in the commons issues mostly. Other than the terms and conditions also takes place time and again too. Sometimes the owners or drivers of garbage carrying trucks also stage protests which halt lifting of waste. Worsen or damaged road conditions are also causes of halting waste lifting from the valley.  

Mostly in the monsoon season, the transportation of garbage to dumping site gets disrupted because of the muddy road as trucks carrying garbage sink into the slushy ground. In that section, a 300 meters road stretch between Kolpu Khola to Valley 1 of Sisdole landfill site is in urgent need of repairs. There are three landfill sites called Valley 1, Valley 2 and Valley 3 in the Sisdole site.

The Kathmandu Valley generates around 1,200 metric tonnes of solid waste every day. Almost half of that comes from the KMC alone.

The landfill site at Sisdole, around 27km northwest of Kathmandu is spread over 740 ropanis of land (37.65 hectares). Formerly this was a gorge, filled up the garbage for years and being used although it has already reached its capacity. KMC  started dumping garbage collected from the valley at the Sisdole site with an agreement that the site would be used for 3 years, but 15 years later garbage continues to be dumped there. The agreement was signed in 2005.

Another agreement was reached recently between the local residents and the Kathmandu Metropolitan City to allow the Valley’s garbage to be collected and dumped at Sisdole. As per the agreement KMC agrees to provide a grant of Rs. 18.7 million to hire 31 teachers for primary and secondary schools in wards 1, 2 and 3 of Kakani Rural Municipality and ward 1 of Dhunibesi Municipality. KMC also committed to construct a 15-bed hospital in the area, and until then it has agreed to provide for the free health check-up and treatment of people from landfill site area in government hospitals in the capital valley. Another agreement was to form a technical team for the land acquisition process from private landowners in the landfill sites where garbage has been dumped for years.

Bancharedanda is a new dumping site situated between the border of Nuwakot and Dhading districts near Sisdole. The site is spread to an area of 1792 Ropanis (around 91 hectares). The government had spent Rs. 1.9 billion to construct the site. This site is equipped with sanitary landfill system also. That means toxic leachate which percolates from the waste will be treated before they are discharged into rivers. The Bancharedanda site was supposed to start using from a few months back.

If Kathmandu Valley residents change their behaviours in segregating the waste they generate to be good to reuse and recycle like making compost fertilisers, materials made of papers, glasses, plastic and rubber to recycle and the waste generated will meant a lot to waste management procedure. That will help Bancharedanda site to be good for using for more than 50 years. 

However, the valley people will not be likely to change their behaviour soon and the authorities will not be able to punish them for defying the waste management norms. Therefore, some other practicable solution must be thought to get rid of waste management problem of the Kathmandu Valley.

That means mode of waste transportation should be changed and the dumping site should be turned to be a segregation, recycle and waste to generate energy site.

For the transportation of waste or garbage generated in the valley ropeway systems may be brought into consideration. Ropeway system will replace the use of waste carrying trucks, road uses, avoid fossil fuels and support air pollution control. Consumption of electricity generated in the country and public health benefits will be the positive contribution. Similarly, total waste arrived at the site will need to pass through a segregation process. That will help reusable and recyclable waste to put aside. The organic waste will have to be used for a waste to energy plant to generate biogas and organic fertilisers. The reusable and recyclable materials will be brought back by ropeway to handover to respective users or industries. Then Bancharedanda will give waste management service to the Kathmandu Valley for more than a half century in the real sense reducing a number of hassles as well.