Butwal continues to pollute Tinau River with its wasteGarbage is dumped on the riverbanks as the city does not have a waste processing site.
Butwal Sub-metropolitan City, which is responsible for collecting and managing garbage from in and around the city, has been dumping its waste on the banks of Tinau River for years. This has caused massive pollution in the river area, adversely affecting the residents of nearby settlements.
According to Bhuwa Prasad Luintel, senior officer at the sub-metropolis office, the city dumps its waste on the riverbanks, as it does not have a local waste processing centre.
“The city has been dumping its waste in the ditches along the riverbank so as to avoid the garbage from entering the river,” said Luintel, “Once the ditches are filled, we cover them up and move on to another area to dump the city’s waste.”
Butwal, one of the major cities in western Nepal, produces around 60 tonnes of garbage on a daily basis. The city does not have a designated dumping site or a processing centre.
Data from the sub-metropolitan showed that around 70 percent of the collected waste is biodegradable while the remaining waste can be processed and recycled.
However, in the absence of a waste processing centre, the city has opted to dump its garbage along the river banks. The east side of the Tinau River spanning from Kandhaghari to Majhuwa is turning into a landfill site, local residents say.
Despite it being the responsibility of the local governments to keep the water bodies and forests free from pollutants, major cities and municipalities in Rupandehi have been dumping their waste products in local rivers and forests for years.
Starting this year, Butwal has begun dumping its waste materials on the west side of the river, stating that the city would build a roadway after the ditches near Majhuwa are filled.
The settlements on the west side of the river that were already at risk of erosion and flooding are now facing a new ordeal with the metropolis starting to dump garbage near their homes.
“We had gone to the sub-metropolitan office to request the construction of an embankment but the office told us it will begin construction only after the ditches are filled,” said Singh Bahadur Bogati, chairman of the Local Waste Management Committee. “The foul smell of garbage has made our lives miserable, but we are tolerating it in hopes that the embankment will be constructed soon and our homes will be safe.”
The waste materials that are dumped along the river banks not only emit foul smell but during monsoons, the covered dumping ditches are exposed and the garbage flows towards the settlements, farmlands and forests, affecting the local biodiversity.
“The water sources in the city have become polluted due to the garbage. Local aquatic plants are dying due to the presence of excessive chemicals in the river,” said Narayan Bhattarai, environmental expert at the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Soil Conservation of Lumbini Province. “This is affecting the biodiversity of the region.”
With the increase in population, the then Butwal Municipality had planned to construct a waste processing centre 21 years ago and the budget for the same has been allocated multiple times. Studies were conducted for the project but the work never took off from the ground level.
In 2010, the city signed an agreement with the Asian Development Bank to construct a waste processing centre with the capacity of processing 83 tonnes of waste daily at a cost of Rs370 million. However, the project that was slated to complete by 2015 was scrapped in 2018 after the local residents protested and refused to let the city bring its waste near their settlements.
Meanwhile, Butwal, along with Sainamaina Municipality and Kanchan Rural Municipality, has now planned the construction of a waste processing plant at Sainamaina, which will cost around Rs 1 billion.
However, since the project is in its initial stage, it is unclear as to when and how the processing centre will be constructed.
“Since it is a big project, it will take at least two years to finalise the details,” said Butwal’s Mayor Shivaraj Subedi.