Landfill site locals threaten ‘ultimate’ protest over unfulfilled promisesSay they will talk only with the prime minister and agree for nothing less than a separate body to address their problems.
The residents and elected representatives of Banchare Danda have once again expressed concerns over the indifference of the authorities towards resolving their daily problems caused by garbage disposal in their area.
Organising a press conference in Kathmandu on Monday, the Banchare Danda Landfill Affected Area Concern Committee and local residents issued a two-week ‘ultimatum’ to the government to address their concerns. They said they would obstruct garbage disposal at the Banchare Danda landfill from mid-September if their concerns were not heeded.
“We have sent our memos to over two dozen stakeholders including the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Urban Development, and Kathmandu Metropolitan City,” said Shree Ram Dhungana, coordinator of the committee.
He said the committee has reached out to all government agencies concerned during the past month and a half to resolve their problems without delay.
“Now we have lobbied the government to make an independent garbage management authority to solve the problems emanating from garbage disposal at Banchare Danda,” he added.
Over the past 18 years, hundreds of households living near Banchare Danda and Sisdole landfills have been suffering from various problems due to the unregulated disposal of garbage from the Kathmandu Valley and Dhulikhel.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) in 2005 began dumping the garbage collected from the Valley at Sisdole in Nuwakot district. Initially the arrangement was to use an area of 750 ropani (37.65 hectares) as landfill for three years. But the KMC continued using the Sisdole landfill for almost 16 years and it was only last year that it started dumping garbage at a new landfill at Banchare Danda in the same district, 1.9km to the west of Sisdole.
But, locals have been complaining that due to the poor management of the new dumping site, they are facing the same issues which they faced in Sisdole.
“Now we have come to the conclusion that garbage and humans cannot coexist. So either the government should relocate our settlement or stop dumping garbage in our area,” said Ghananath Bajagain, chairman of ward-3 of Kakani Rural Municipality.
Reduced agricultural yields, diseased animals, proliferation of flies, disruption in education at school due to the stench from rotting waste, respiratory problems and skin diseases are some of the most common problems the residents in the area have been living with for nearly two decades.
“This time we will sit for talks only with the prime minister, and agree for nothing less a separate garbage management authority, because Kathmandu Metropolitan City alone can’t solve this problem,” said Dhungana.
He said, Banchare Danda locals have come to the realisation that Mayor Balendra Shah’s administration alone cannot solve the perennial garbage problem.
After the protest by locals, in June last year, the KMC and the representatives of Sisdole and Banchare Danda had reached an 18-point agreement. Before the deal, there had been a three-way agreement with the involvement of the Ministry of Urban Development. As per the agreement, KMC was supposed to make arrangements to make both Sisdole and Banchare Danda a smell-free zone within one month. Also, the KMC was supposed to find out a scientific solution to prevent leachate from mixing into the local Kolpu Khola river. But, none of these problems have been solved.
Locals have been complaining about the river being contaminated by the leachate, preventing them from stepping into the river, and they cannot even take the ritual dip in the river after performing funeral rites on the riverbanks.
“This time, we won't back down from our stances. We will not sign any agreement until the government forms a separate entity to solve the problem,” said Dhungana whose house is just 800 metres away from Banchare Danda landfill.
Locals say the stench from the decomposing waste at Banchare Danda reaches up to 3,500 metres from the landfill, and every household is suffering.
Bajagain, the ward-3 chair, said the next protest will be their final one and will not stop until an independent authority is set up for resolving the garbage. He said they will halt garbage trucks from reaching the site.
When Post contacted KMC spokesman Nabin Man Manandhar to inquire about the demand of locals, he admitted that KMC alone cannot fulfil the demands of the locals.
“We have provided life insurance coverage to the locals, and also given jobs to a few, but there are several other issues and KMC alone can’t solve them. Also, we are not the only local unit dumping garbage there,” said Manandhar.
Even last year the KMC had announced plans to convert the organic solid waste into compost manure and sell it in the market. The City officials had said they had identified a few places to set up manure factories, but due to dispute with the locals of the proposed sites, the plan could not materialise.
Eighteen municipalities of the Kathmandu Valley generate 1,200 tonnes of solid waste every day. Nearly 60 percent of the waste is generated by the KMC alone.
Manandhar said the KMC is ready to cooperate if the central government sets up a separate body to resolve the waste disposal issues.