Kathmandu’s garbage problem needs permanent solution
By Purna N. Ranjitkar l
Once upon a time the Kathmandu valley was called as valley of temples and green fields. As such it was known to have more temples than residences and could be seen as a bowl of emerald. Moreover, out of the religious, cultural and historical assets there are seven World Heritage Sites in this valley of 600 square kilo meter.
The scene currently has changed with features of hips of uncollected garbage here and there mainly in Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) area. This has been a huge problem to the administration and residents.
The newly elected KMC Mayor, Deputy Mayor, concerned Minister and influential Member of Parliament and others are working to solve out the problem as far possible. But the locals of the Sisdol Landfill Site, Bancharedanda Landfill Site and surroundings are not happy with the Federal Government and KMC over the problems they are bearing due to the ill managed dumped waste of the Kathmandu Valley. They argue that commitments were not fulfilled. The Sisdol Landfill Site has been over dumped. The dumped garbage caused worse environment scenario, pollutions and health risks.
Sisdol was planned to dump selected waste only for a period of 3 years but dumped all type of garbage without segregating there for long time – over 15 years. Bancharedanda Landfill Site locates ata distance of around 3 km from Sisdolis still under construction but part of that can be utilised for the time being.
The road to Bancharedanda Landfill Site is the same that is used for Sisdol. The locals have different organisations besides elected local bodies to show their concerns. Some of them are showing strength to defy the recent agreement among local elected bodies, KMC and the concerned ministry.
Under normal circumstances, nearly 200 vehicles bring solid waste in Sisdol every day to dump. The landfill site, located in a steep gorge spanning over 38 hectares has been over used -far beyond the capacity. The dumped solid waste grow hills of garbage grow every year there every year. During the monsoon, heavy rainfall causes garbage to flow down onto the roads and nearby settlements, causing extreme health and environmental risks. The road built over the dumped waste go slide as well to cause obstruction of transportation as well.
Studies say that the valley of 3.32 million people residing in 18 municipalities including Kathmandu Metropolitan City and Lalipur generate more than 1,200 tons of solid waste in a day. At least 75 per cent of this waste ends up in the landfill site. The other 25 per cent is dumped in empty plots, flown into the Bagmatiriver, or burned in the open to disastrous public health and environmental effects.
A study conducted by Kathmandu University in 2020 found that about 9 per cent of Kathmandu’s waste is burned, increasing the concentration of air particulate matter (PM2.5) by nearly 30 per cent, killing thousands every year.
It is to note that waste generated every day in KMC is 517 ton, LMC 130, Gokarneshwar 60, Nagarjun 35, Tokha 35, Tarkeshwar 35, Budhanilkantha 35, Chandragiri 30, Mahalaxmi 30, Madhyapur Thimi 30, Godawari 25, Surya Binayak 25, Kageswari Manohara 20, Dakshinkali 15, Changu Narayan 15 Kirtipur 6. However, Bhaktapur is managing itself the waste produced while Banepa Municipality sends collected garbage to the landfill site other municipalities are using.
There are 32 private companies engaged in waste collection in KMC alone. KMC collects waste of 8 wards out while of 32 wards while private companies collect 13 wards. Similarly, KMC and private sector jointly work in other 11wards. KMC does not collect any fee against collection of garbage from the households. Private companies collect Rs. 300 or 400 from each household against waste collection service they provide. Moreover, malls and hospitals are said to be paying around Rs. 40,000 from each of such institutions as big polluters.
Recently an agreement was inked to open up to bring garbage to Bancharedanda, but the locals were still obstructing transportation of waste to the landfill site. They were saying that real problems were not yet addressed.
Lastly, it is said that a fresh agreement has been okeyed with plans to arrange health insurance to local residents, a 10 bed hospital to set up, scientific solutions to neutralise unpleasant and toxic smells and latchets and transfer garbage during night hours only. Similarly, segregated waste only to bring to landfill site strictly July 16 onwards was another land mark clause of the agreement.
The KMC Mayor and others have started informing the KMC residents and others to segregate garbage at the source as mandatory. Organic wastes are said to convert to compost fertiliser at the residences. KMC will not be responsible to collect all types of ‘mixed’ waste.
As matter of fact, the first option in the methodology should be reducing production of garbage by avoiding unnecessary packaging materials. This is possible only if residents manage at their households. Second can be segregation of the waste to send to landfill site and to utilise to produce compost fertiliser. Third, all garbage to collect and immediately move to the landfill site where segregation, send back selected materials for reuse or recycle, and utilise the organic waste to generate bio-gas and bio-fertiliser at the site.
As far the locals’ concern on transporting garbage through their neighbourhood causes risks, KMC and concerned authorities have agreed on arranging transportation in the night time. So as to avoid use of road, reduce vehicular pollution, reduce disturbances to locals, and reduce time to transport an easy mode of transportation must be worked out. Ropeway system is the real solution to address all such problems or hindrances.
Experts argue that waste can fetch money if handled efficiently as sales of reusable and recyclable materials can be sold. Likewise, bio-gas and bio-fertilisers can also fetch a good sum of money. Besides all such advantages, the Kathmandu Valley residents will be happily paying waste management fee which sums up 150 million rupees in a month or more.
As such, KMC, LMC, municipalities, concerned ministries have to handle this problem for long term gathering cooperation from locals of the landfill sites and entire residents of the Kathmandu.