Garbage: A Big Problem of Kathmandu

Posted by: Kiran

The Kathmandu city of Nepal has been suffering from garbage for last 20 years, when the city turned into a crowded bunch of people.People usually come from outside of valley to Kathmandu frequently orthey migrate from rural to urban area for better livelihood without any specific mission. So the management of garbage in the capital city is becoming a headache of all governments. Unlike in other cities of the developed countries where wastes are managed scientifically, the garbage here is left to rot emitting stink and also posing a health hazards to the city dwellers. Moreover, the disposal of garbage in landfill sites has proved to be problematic, and it is often disrupted by local people and others causing piles of wastes in road belts also. This also has termed our capital city as full of garbage contributing a bad and negative image among foreigners and visitors which must be looked upon considerably.

As in other developing countries, Nepal’s public services system also finds itself struggling to keep pace with the rate of urban growth. Pressure of increased-population and the lack of satisfactory management system have made the capital city vulnerable to environmental crisis of solid waste disposal. The problem of solid waste management in Kathmandu is not only because of inadequate systems of garbage collection and its final disposal but also due to low level of public awareness. The Kathmandu municipal cooperation has been adopting various strategies for a long for the safe disposal of solid waste. The effort in this regard has got priority by the Government of Nepal (GON) and the Government of Japan jointly through which a study entitled ‘The study on the Solid Waste Management for the Kathmandu Valley’ has been launched with a technical assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

It has been like a ritual of Kathmanduites to see the pile of stinking garbage in the beginning of monsoon. However, as yet there has been a little effort to set up a permanent landfill site to dump the wastes accumulated in the capital. Like previous years, the garbage crisis has hit the capital this year too. But instead of searching permanent place for its proper management, government has decided to dump wastes alongside of Bagmati River. The selection of new landfill site has also come under controversy as the local people have already opposed the move. “We will not allow any move to dump the garbage along the holy river Baghmati”. The government, which has been looking for a substitute dumping site at Gokarna for some time, seems to be determined to use the new site. Although the authorities had identified Okharpauwa and Syuchatar as alternatives to the capital’s oldest landfill site previously, these have never come with its development mechanism. Surprisingly, the government now has announced the plans to dump wastes along the Bagmati river, which could be main landfill site for garbage, seems unsustainable from different perspectives.

“We will prepare a permanent dumping site but it will take few more months to complete”, a government official especially the Ministry of Local Development says about. They planned dumping site encompassing the temple of Gokarneswor to the west up to the Gujeshwori temple. The engineers of Nepal Army will build road on top of the dumped waste along the river. But local municipal officials, however, have kept their mum on the issue.When a 400-ton waste produced by Kathmandu and Lalitpur is dumped on the banks of Bagmati, we may wonder how the river will bear the new burden!

The Gokarna dumping site was used for more than a decade. And it has been known to have exhausted itself for a long. As the monsoon approaches, the annual dilemma of government regarding the proper dumping of waste is once again looming before the authorities. Moreover, the Gokarna dumping site which has been the only way out is now closed itself. It is a proven fact that the dumping site at Gokarna can in no way manage the big volume of garbage.

The dumping site was closed because the site could no longer take in the garbage that was dumped in it. And the local population also suffered from environmental hazard due to mismanagement of the dumping site. The local municipal authorities had even reacted to the problem by dumping waste along the Tundhikhel.

The government has introduced plans to construct a 120 million rupees Land Fill Site in Syuchatar. However, the scheme never worked practically as it comes out of construction.

The government, the metropolis, and the VDC at Mulpani-Gokarna had signed the “last agreement” saying the garbage will continue to be dumped at Gokarna until the month of Magh (February 2000). But with the help ofpolice the government had managed to dump the waste there till now.

There seems to be no serious measure taken by the government regarding the problem. The dumping of wastes along the Bagmati and building a road on top of it will not help to combat the problem of proper management of waste. Can the new method be a sound way in combating the environmental problem that has arisen in Kathmandu? As a matter of fact, we will have a tourist season coming as soon as the monsoon ends.

Most of the former Prime Ministers have been given priority to manage the garbage problem. Accordingly, current Prime Minister Madav Kumar Nepal, soon after reigning office, had given directions to manage the garbage and to prepare a proposal to expedite it. Now, the Ministry of Local Development has come up with one that has been forwarded to the cabinet that proposes the formation of a high-level special committee that would look into the scientific management of the garbage generated in the city. The proposal may sound ambitious, but, if it is implemented, then much headway can be made in waste management.
According to the proposal, the valley’s garbage is to be managed in an integrated manner utilizing the budget set aside for this purpose for the current fiscal year. It also proposes to involve the private sector in this venture by granting special incentives. Under it, the government would provide land for the plant that would mange the wastes scientifically and also to exempt taxes for the trash-based industry. Herein, it must be noted that interest in this venture has already been expressed by the private sector. They have also studied the possibilities and have expressed the confidence that they are up to the task. The government so far has proved to be inept in managing the garbage as desired, so the participation of the private sector in this attempt is very welcoming and, that the government is willing to facilitate them, augur well for the proposal.
Furthermore, the management of garbage in a scientific manner could be a profitable enterprise
through which compost fertilizers could be produced and wastes could be recycled. Moreover, it could also be used for gas production. The idea of scientific garbage management at present may not seem to be realistic, so it is for those involved in making the proposal and the agent that would be selected to conduct it should be
serious about the entire thing. Feasibility studies should be conducted immediately and the necessary procedures are to be made in order to construct the plant that would scientifically manage the wastes. The country already possesses much of the manpower to operate such a plant, and, if necessary, the plant could be run with interested foreign entrepreneurs and the import of their technology. As we are in the 21st century, the country should be kept with the sophisticated technology or be left behind. By all accounts, waste management in the capital city is feasible but what is needed is that the task must be backed by political will. If the garbage problemmust be solved forever the strong commitment should come out from major political parties and all the local stakeholders. And, the government should take necessary action for garbage management otherwise the garbage will remain as a showcase of Kathmandu valley.

 

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