Mayor’s second visit to Sisdole does little to placate disgruntled peopleOn his visit to the dumping site Friday, Shah stated his resolve to free Sisdole of the stench from the garbage dump within a week but locals were far from appeased.
Garbage has been piling up on Kathmandu’s streets, alleys and open spaces for over a month now. During this period, Kathmandu elected a new mayor, Balendra Shah, who has listed waste management as one of his commitments in his 28-topic manifesto.
Especially after Shah’s election on May 27, the discourse about Sisdole and Banchare Danda landfill sites has gained momentum. The new mayor has vowed to resolve the issues faced by locals living in the vicinity of the dumping sites. But the locals are far from placated and have announced a series of protests against the use of the two landfill sites from Saturday.
On his visit to the dumping site on Friday, Shah stated his resolve to free Sisdole residents of the stink emanating from the garbage dump within a week. “Chemicals will be used to eliminate the foul smell from the garbage pile by next week. Within three months, we will find a way to convert organic waste into manure and gas,” Shah told the Post’s sister paper Kantipur.
Shree Ram Dhungana, coordinator of Banchare Danda Landfill Affected Area Concern Committee, said the locals are not convinced with the mayor’s pledge, even though he is committed to resolving the problem. “Until the federal government implements its earlier decisions, we won’t back down,” Dhungana said.
“For 17 years, the government has deceived us. It made numerous decisions for the people of the area, but nothing has been implemented. We don’t want the mayor coming here. He should rather lobby the federal government to implement its decisions.”
Garbage collection has been put on hold in Kathmandu for the past 39 days since Teku’s waste transfer station is already filled to capacity and the locals of Sisdole and Banchare Danda have stopped garbage trucks from reaching the dumping sites in protest of the non-deliverance of their demands by the government.
The locals are agitated against the authorities and their inability to resolve the garbage dump issue in the two locations. Sarita Rai, chief of the KMC’s environment department, said a day after the mayor’s visit on May 27, the locals vandalised eight garbage trucks.
The mayor now finds himself in a fix. Kathmandu residents have been complaining of garbage piles outside their homes and in public spaces and the residents of Sisdole have refused to allow garbage disposal at Banchare Danda.
Locals have been protesting against the use of Banchare Danda as a landfill site without proper study lest it turns into Sisdole where locals have had to suffer from mismanagement of waste. Banchare Danda is 1.9km west of Sisdole landfill site, which has already reached its capacity.
The Sisdole site has become a stinking hill and the nearby settlement has complained of hazards other than to human health: drop in quality of their agricultural produce, and disease in their livestock due to the leachate from the landfill site.
“Government’s report states that garbage and humans can’t live together. It talks about relocating the human settlements. It also states compensation to affected families, job opportunities to all the affected families, the establishment of a 50-bed hospital for the locals but nothing has been implemented yet,” said Dhungana.
“There has been a gross violation of human rights here and we are suffering,” said Dhungana. “But we are expected to toe the line and allow the government to do as it pleases. We don’t have faith in anyone, and now no one can stop us from peaceful demonstrations,” said Dhungana.
The locals have also demanded a budget from the local authorities to repair the Tinpiple-Sisdole road section. They have said they will not let garbage trucks pass through the road section until all their demands are met.
Suman Tamang, the newly appointed chairperson of Kakani Rural Municipality said he is not against solving the problem of managing solid waste generated by Kathmandu. “But first Kathmandu and the authorities must win the trust of the locals. They have been deceived with false promises time and again,” he said.
Kathmandu Valley generates 1,200 tonnes of solid waste every day. Nearly 60 percent of the waste is generated by the Kathmandu metropolis itself.
Over 200 households with around 1,200 family members who reside near the Sisdole and Banchare Danda landfills have been categorised as highly affected households.
The Sisdole Health Post’s data from last year shows 15 people had died of cancer in three different villages near Sisdole—Chhatre Deurali in Dhunibeshi Municipality, Sudeni and Kagate village in Kakani Rural Municipality alone.
“This is criminal,” said Dhungana, the Banchare Danda Landfill Site Infected Area Committee’s coordinator. “The state should be held responsible for bringing this upon us.”