Drive to clear cables resumes with focus on Indra Jatra chariot routeDisposal of the truckloads of collected cables has emerged as a new headache for the civic body.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City on Friday resumed its drive to clear tangled cables from various places of the Capital after a hiatus of over three weeks.
Officials at the KMC said the City has started the drive in the historic locales such as Ason, Indra Chowk, and Basantapur, with an eye on the chariot procession of this year’s Indra Jatra, being celebrated on September 28.
However, the metropolis is still unclear on what to do with the cables collected from utility poles around the city. Earlier, the drive was halted after internet cables were cut indiscriminately in the Battisputali area.
The issue has now been settled, according to Raju Nath Pandey, chief of the municipal police. The teams mobilised by the metropolis will now be more careful while clearing tangled wires in the remaining areas and consult the internet providers, Pandey said.
KMC launched the drive on May 8 after giving the internet service providers 15 days to clean up their cables on the roadsides.
The local unit has collected more than 100 trucks of wires from various places in the city in around four months. The campaign has so far covered Maitighar, Gaushala, Kalimati, Tripureshwar, Maharjgunj, New Road and Indra Chowk.
While the KMC has been praised for the drive, there have also been concerns that it lacks a clear roadmap to dispose of the cables.
Cables dangling from utility poles have inconvenienced pedestrians and increased the risk of accidents involving mainly children, women and disabled people.
But still the issue of managing the collected cables that is likely to weigh hundreds of tonnes by the time the campaign is completed has emerged as a new challenge for the KMC.
Meanwhile, KMC officials have found an alternative to dispose of a portion of the cables, which may bring them some respite.
“Recently, some people from the Tarai came to collect cables that they can use to make fences,” Rabin Man Shrestha, chief of the Environment Department at the KMC, told the Post. “They want to use the cables to install fences in their agricultural farms.”
However, KMC officials and those who have contacted them are yet to come up with a clear plan on how to dispose of the removed cables. “As they [the collectors] have said they might be obstructed by the traffic personnel and other agencies while transporting trucks of cables from Kathmandu to the Tarai districts, we are still working on how it could be done smoothly,” Shrestha said.
Earlier, KMC spokesperson Nabin Man Manandhar had told the Post that due to lack of space at the Teku transfer station, some collected wires were taken to the Banchare Danda landfill site.
However, local residents, who have been protesting against the indiscriminate dumping of garbage in the area, threatened to begin their ‘ultimate protest’ over the unfulfilled promises from the government authorities.
They have been pressuring the government to form a separate body to address their problems.
In his conversation with the Post on September 3, Suraj Upreti, deputy mayor of Dhunibeshi Municipality, where the landfill lies, said the KMC should manage its non-decomposable wires and strictly prohibit their disposal in Banchare Danda, where the local residents are already reeling under the problem of unmanaged solid waste for nearly two decades.
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.
Officials have long been warning that if the heaps of cables lying in Teku catch fire, that may be hard to put out. A year ago, a fire had broken out in Teku at a place where the collected wires were kept, triggering a panic in the nearby human settlements.
Currently, two city policemen have been deployed in Teku to guard the collected cables.
This, however, is not the first time the KMC has taken such an approach. After being elected as the Kathmandu mayor in May 2017, Bidya Sundar Shakya had vowed to manage the jumbled wires on the utility poles—yet the problem remains unaddressed to this day.
KMC officials said that during the tenure of Shakya, they would give away the collected cables to the brick kilns operating in Bhaktapur. Environmentalists, however, protested against the decision, saying it was not the appropriate way to dispose of them. They said the cables should be recycled although that may incur some cost.
“It may take time for us to collect all the unmanaged wires, but the main headache is how to manage them,” said Pandey, the police chief. “The scrap collectors don’t take them and we can’t burn them either.”