Kathmandu metropolis starts dumping truckloads of cables at Banchare DandaLocal residents, representatives have objected to the metropolitan city’s move.
While the Kathmandu Metropolitan City is still unclear about what to do with the cables collected from various places in the city, the work of removing dangling wires has been stalled for over a week.
KMC officials said that as the local unit doesn’t have any alternative place to dump the collected wires, it has started sending the heap to Banchare Danda, where the Valley’s garbage is dumped.
The KMC had started the wire removal drive on May 8, after giving a 15-day ultimatum to internet service providers (ISPs) as it didn’t get support from the ministries and other stakeholders.
KMC spokesman Nabin Man Manandhar claimed that the task is now halted due to rain. But city police say the work was discontinued after some ISPs cut wires haphazardly in Battisputali area.
“We were compelled to halt our task as some ISP staff cut wires haphazardly in Battisputali area,” said Raju Nath Pandy, chief of city police. “We stopped removing the cables after we got complaints.”
Pandey said they are going to talk to the ISP companies and resume the drive soon. He said the city has been cutting the tangled wires only after consultation with internet providers.
The KMC’s initiative to clear the webs of jumbled wires on the poles that remained as an eyesore in the Capital city for years has been praised. But the issue of managing the collected mess that is likely to weigh hundreds of tonnes by the time the campaign is completed has emerged as a new challenge for the metropolis.
Officials said the KMC has collected over 70 trucks of wires from various places in around four months. The drive that started from Maitighar has reached Gaushala, Kalimati, Tripureshwar to Maharjgunj, New Road and Indra Chowk.
“For a lack of a place to dump them at Teku, we have transferred some collected wires to Banchare Danda,” said Manandhar.
However, local residents of Banchare Danda, who have been protesting against the haphazard dumping of garbage in the area, have threatened to launch an ‘ultimate’ protest over the unfulfilled promises from government authorities. They have been pressuring the government to form a separate body to address the problems.
Local officials are against the City’s decision to dump cables at Banchare Danda.
“The KMC should manage those cables itself. Citizens of Banchare Danda are already suffering from the unmanaged solid waste, and the City should not dump those non-decomposable wires,” said Suraj Upreti, deputy mayor of Dhunibeshi Municipality.
The KMC has been criticised for not formulating a concrete plan to manage the collected cables before starting the drive.
The wires can’t be burned due to environmental hazards. With the Teku transfer station running out of space, managing the cables has become an immediate headache for the city officials.
Officials have warned that if the heaps of cables at Teku catch fire, it may be hard to douse. A year ago, a fire had broken out in Teku from the place where the collected wires were kept, causing huge risk to the nearby settlement.
Currently, two city policemen have been deployed at Teku to guard the collected cables.
KMC officials said that earlier, during the tenure of former mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya, the City would give away the collected cables to brick kilns in Bhaktapur. Environmentalists, however, protested against the decision saying that it was not an appropriate way to dispose of them.
In his conversation with the Post, Bhushan Tuladhar, an environmentalist who closely follows urban issues including pollution, had said the City could recycle the dumped cables. “If the City opts to recycle the cables, it might incur some cost, but it will be the best way out,” Tuladhar had told the Post.
He, too, said the KMC should not give the cables away to brick kilns. When burnt, the plastic-covered wires emit toxic smoke that will exacerbate the air pollution, he said.
“We are yet to decide what to do with the collected cables, but we are working to resume collecting tangled cables from the remaining places,” said Manandhar.
Months after the KMC started clearing the tangled cables, it still lacks a clear vision to manage the collected wires.
This is, however, not the first time the City has taken such an approach. After being elected as the Kathmandu mayor in May 2017, Bidya Sundar Shakya had also vowed to manage the jumbled wires on the utility poles—yet the problem remains unaddressed to this day.
In November last year, even the Nepal Electricity Authority had issued a 45-day ultimatum to the internet service providers to remove messy cables in order to minimise accidents, including fires, and maintain the urban beauty. But the call went unheeded.