Sisdole locals say they won’t allow garbage at Banchare Danda until their demands are metOver 200 households with around 1,200 family members who reside near the Sisdole and Banchare Danda landfills have been categorised as highly affected households.
Last Tuesday, garbage trucks from Kathmandu were sent to the Banchare Danda landfill escorted by security personnel in light of the protest from the locals against using the area as a dumping site.
Banchare Danda is 1.9km west of Sisdole landfill site, which is approximately 27 km west of Kathmandu.
With the increase in rainfall in the past few days, the garbage trucks were stuck on the way to the landfill site since multiple sections of the roads leading to the dumping sites were obstructed.
The monsoon rains make the road going to Okharpauwa in Nuwakot, where the Banchare Danda dumping site is, muddy, resulting in the obstruction of the movement of the garbage trucks leaving from Kathmandu.
However, it’s not only the poor weather that obstructs the movement of the garbage trucks to the landfill site. The locals have been strongly opposing the City’s move to use Banchare Danda as an alternative to Sisdole landfill site and have said that they will continue obstructing the garbage trucks until their demands are met.
“Last week, urban minister Ram Kumari Jhakri forcefully took the garbage trucks to Banchare Danda, without listening to the woes of the locals who have been suffering for years,” said Santosh Shrestha, 31, a local from Kakani Rural Municipality, ward-1.
He said the locals won’t let the government authorities dump garbage in the area if the authorities fail to adopt scientific methods to manage solid waste and guarantee the health safety of the locals.
“Banchara Danda is not far from our settlement. The authorities have not taken any measures to manage garbage and have not taken us into consideration,” said Shrestha. “If they move the dumping site from Sisdole to Banchare Danda, it will still be us who will suffer.”
Kathmandu Valley generates 1,200 tonnes of solid waste every day. Nearly 60 percent of the waste is generated by the Kathmandu metropolis itself.
In 2005, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City started dumping garbage collected from the Valley at Sisdole, spread over 740 ropanis (37.65 hectares) of land, with an agreement that the site would be used for three years. It’s been 17 years since that agreement and the Valley’s garbage is still being dumped at Sisdole.
When the City started dumping its garbage at Sisdole, there were only 15-20 trucks full of garbage sent to the site daily. Now the Valley generates over 150 trucks of garbage every day including garbage collected from Kavre, Panauti and Dhulikhel, according to officials.
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.
“Even though the government had spent a huge sum of money for Banchare Danda, there is no proper management of leachate. When it rains, it directly mixes with Kalpu Khola, and this will have an adverse impact on the surrounding areas,” said Chandra Bahadur Balami, former chairperson at Kakani Rural Municipality, ward-1.
Over 200 households with around 1,200 family members who reside near the Sisdole and Banchare Danda have been categorised as highly affected households.
Dibesh Shrestha, administrative officer at Sisdole Health Post, said every day over 40 people come to the health post with complaints of headache, diarrhoea, respiratory problems and skin disease, among others.
“We only do initial treatment and then refer most cases to bigger hospitals in Kathmandu. Of the total referred cases so far, 60 percent of people have cancer. That is the price the locals of this area have to pay,” said Shrestha. “In the past year at my village Kagati, in Kakani Rural Municipality, seven people were diagnosed and died of cancer.”
Data from the health post for the past year shows 15 people have died of cancer in three different villages near Sisdole—Chhatre Deurali in Dhunibeshi Municipality and Seudeni and Kagate villages in Kakani Rural Municipality.
“There have been numerous announcements for locals such as establishing a 50-bed hospital, free ambulance services, and job facilities for each affected household but nothing has been set. We all are living with diseases,” said Balami, the former chairperson of Kakani Rural Municipality. “We couldn’t do much about the Sisdole issue but we will not compromise our health and lives by allowing garbage dumping at Banchare Danda.”
Shrestha, the administration officer, added, “It’s been nearly two decades that we have not been able to breathe in fresh air. We can’t farm our lands and we have to live with diseases. The government uses force against us and has been ignoring our problems.”
Sarita Rai, chief of KMC’s environment department, said on Saturday only, eight lorries carrying garbage to Banchare Dada were vandalised by disgruntled locals.
“Again for the past three days, we haven’t been able to take Valley’s garbage from Teku transfer station because our drivers fear the repercussions,” said Rai.
In September last year, the Ministry had officially announced that the Cell-1 of the dumping site at Banchare Dada was ready for use, and it had blamed the Kathmandu Metropolitan City for being reluctant in using Banchare Danda landfill site.
However, Rai said the city had not taken the garbage to Banchare Danda so as not to repeat the same problem of Sisdole. She had cited the lack of proper management of the site in Banchare Danda.
The construction of a dumping site at Banchare Dada, an alternative to Sisdole, started in 2019. It sprawls over 1,792 ropanis of land in Nuwakot and Dhading.
On Friday, after winning the mayoral election, independent candidate Balendra Shah reached Banchare Danda, which he said was his unofficial visit.
Speaking briefly to media from Banchare Danda he had shown dissatisfaction over how the garbage was being dumped in the new landfill site out in the open without treating the waste. “Solid waste can be treated and used for farming. The mismanagement of garbage has killed local streams and affected natural water sources,” said Shah. “Garbage disposal is not a solution.”
Meanwhile, after resuming his work as newly elected mayor in Sundhara, Shah told journalists on Monday that his priority is to solve the garbage problem in Kathmandu. “Sisdole locals have suffered for a long time. They have had to live with health issues caused by the pollution at the dumping site,” he said.
In the oath-taking ceremony, Shah even refused to accept khada or tika to celebrate his victory stating that he will do so only after the waste management issue is solved.