Stinky affairSolid waste management in the Capital warrants serious attention from the govt
Kathmandu has always had a garbage problem. The Capital’s rapid and unplanned urbanisation and poor municipal management made it an enduring crisis. The trash produced in Kathmandu and Lalitpur is managed at the Sisdol landfill site in Nuwakot. The landfill site literally burst at the seams recently—the walls around the site fell owing to an overload of solid waste. Also, since a few days, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has not been collecting garbage. This has led people to dump their garbage in public places.
The mounting trash pile is not only an eyesore, the stench emanating from the dump has made it impossible for people to reside in nearby areas. The unmanaged waste is harmful to the health of the Valley’s residents as it increases the possibility of an outbreak of vector-borne diseases. Therefore, this situation warrants immediate attention from the government.
The Waste Management Act 2011 is supposed to regulate waste management in the cities. Under the act, local bodies, such as municipalities, have been made responsible for the construction, operation and management of infrastructure for the collection, treatment and final disposal of solid waste. It has also set rules for proper waste disposal and imposed a monetary fine for transgressors. But its biggest challenge has been its implementation. For example, according to the act, only 10 percent of the waste collected in a city should go to dumping sites. But in Kathmandu, almost 80 percent of the waste is dumped in landfill sites.
Sisdol was meant to be a makeshift landfill for three years, but it has been accepting the Capital’s trash for more than a decade. Preparations for a long-term facility in Bancharedanda, on the border between Nuwakot and Dhading districts, have been unsatisfactory. “ KMC is supposed to collect solid waste. It is the responsibility of the central government to build landfill sites. If we don’t find an alternative in the next five months, there will be a crisis situation,” warned KMC spokesperson Gyanendra Adhikari.
The main problem is lack of coordination. Here, between the municipality and the federal government. The issue has been aggravated by lack of consensus on how much responsibility each of the three tiers of government (federal, provincial and local) will have. Lack of political will to tackle garbage management and people’s negative attitude towards waste segregation too has exacerbated the problem.
According to sources, Kathmandu generates 800 tonnes of solid waste everyday, of which 60 percent is said to be organic waste. The organic waste could technically be composted. However, since garbage is not segregated into, say, bio-degradable and non-biodegradable wastes, that adds to the problem. In this regard, the general public also needs to play a responsible role in managing the garbage by separating bio-degradable and non-bio-degradable wastes and disposing them at the allocated site.
There needs to be serious rethinking of the way waste is being managed. The local bodies need to be proactive and they need to come up with an approach that looks at all aspects of waste management, collection and recycling and reuse. Also, the proposed landfill site in Bancharedanda should be completed at the earliest to avoid a looming garbage emergency.