Kathmandu, September 11
Kathmandu Metropolitan City was declared an Open Defecation Free zone during a closed door meeting at the office of KMC yesterday despite reluctance of Mayor Bidhya Sundar Shakya.
Multiple sources told THT that Mayor Shakya was not ready to declare the metropolis an ODF zone, fearing it would be a ‘subject of ridicule.’
A high level government official at Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management said Mayor Shakya did not even want any research works on open defecation in the capital city. “After convincing the mayor a research committee was formed, which submitted its report giving green signal to declare KMC an ODF zone,” according to a source at KMC.
Head of the Kathmandu District Co-ordination Committee Shiva Sundar Rajbaidhya had handed over ODF certificate to mayor Shakya amidst handful of personnels.
The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration in the first week of July had issued a circular to all local levels, including Kathmandu Metropolitan City, requesting them to expedite works to declare themselves as ODF zones. The government has set a deadline of September 30 this year to declare Nepal an ODF country. It has been found that the government was pushing hard to local governments to declare themselves ODF. Sanitation head of the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage Management, Devendra Jha said, “As per the ministry’s circulation, we don’t have much time left to declare each local level ODF.”
The research committee formed by the KMC reported that every house inside KMC had toilets, and people did not practice open defecation, according to Jha. Every house in an area needed to have at least one toilet as a minimum requirement to declare it ODF, said Jha.
KMC’s move to declare Kathmandu ODF has, however, started drawing flak from people and right activists as the metropolis lacks public toilets, and open defecation has been persistent in the city.
Experts said availability of public toilets was one of the prerequisites to declare big cities like KMC an ODF zone. Ashok Maharjan, an urban environmentalist said, “Local government was found least bothered to build more public toilets. Declaring KMC as ODF zone in its current state is ridiculous.”
Prakash Amatya, an expert on water and sanitation suggested KMC to make agreements with local businesses, shopping malls and petrol pumps to allow general people to use their toilets. KMC was the last out of total 11 local governments in Kathmandu district to announce itself ODF zone. Since the KMC has now been declared ODF zone, the DoWSSM is planning to announce Kathmandu district an ODF on September 17.
A version of this article appears in print on September 12, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.