Rain damages road to Okharpauwa landfillThe condition of the road might worsen further if rain continues, say officials while doctors warn diseases could spread easily if the collection of waste is disrupted.
With the onset of the monsoon, Kathmandu Metropolitan City has started facing difficulties in ferrying garbage collected from the Valley to Sisdole in Nuwakot as Sunday’s rain has damaged some parts of the road to the landfill site, officials said.
Heavy rains have damaged various sections of the 27km road, and if the road sustains more damage, city officials won’t be able to dump Kathmandu’s waste, they said.
“Sunday’s rain has damaged the road in Tinpiple and trucks can’t reach up to Sisdole,” said Damodar Lama, an employee at the city office who looks after the Sisdole landfill site.
Access to the landfill, where waste is being piled up even four years after it ran out of space, has always been a problem during the rainy season. “Like in the past, ferrying waste has now become difficult due to the rain,” said Lama. Everyday over 100 trucks carry waste of around 800 metric tonnes from the Kathmandu Valley to Sisdole.
But this year the problems are compounded with the global coronavirus pandemic. If waste is not cleared on time, it will create health hazards in the Valley which has already reported 37 cases of coronavirus, officials said..
“People in the Valley already fear they might catch Covid-19. Diseases transmitted through waste also elicit symptoms similar to Covid-19,” said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, a virologist at Sukraraj Hospital, Teku.
“If people have minor fever, typhoid, and suffer from hepatitis A or E, and suffer from sore throat and common cold, this will add panic and it’s hard for them to get treatment in hospitals, due to the risk of contracting coronavirus,” said Pun.
He said unlike earlier years, patients don’t have the option to go to the Teku hospital for the treatment for diseases other than Covid-19.
“Earlier, during the monsoon season we used to get an average of 40 patients with viral diseases, but the situation at Teku hospital is different because of Covid-19,” said Pun.
He requested the government take action to manage waste on time.
Dr Basudev Pandey, director of the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital said piling of waste on the street will only add to the problems caused by Covid-19. “We are already in a difficult situation, imagine if the number of dengue and cholera cases go up,” said Pandey.
Even though the government has enforced lockdown, major road sections, junctions, inner alleys and open spaces can be seen littered with wastes in the city.
Hari Kumar Shrestha, chief at the Environment Division said that the city was planning to start dumping waste on another location before the monsoon “This year we were expecting to dump the Valley’s waste at Banchare Dada (one kilometer west of Sisdole). The urban development ministry was working on it, but due to lockdown the construction work has been halted,” said Shrestha.
Padam Kumar Mainali, spokesperson for the Ministry of Urban Development said the ongoing construction work at Bancharedada has been obstructed after water gushed inside the construction area.
“Somehow we had continued construction work at the new landfill site even after the lockdown, but now it’s impossible to carry out work until the monsoon is over,” said Mainali.
He said the ministry has allocated Rs 340 million for the project and the deadline to complete landfill site was mid-April, but due to lockdown officials can’t say exactly when the project will be completed.