Garbage row puts public health at stake

KATHMANDU: Garbage has been piling up in every nook and cranny of Kathmandu Valley for a week, increasing the chances of people getting affected with diseases.

People are likely to face health hazards, particularly after the monsoon rain, as the rain water, mixed with the refuse, is likely to pollute drinking water pipes due to the Valley’s poor drainage system.

Moreover, the Kathmanduites are already finding it difficult to breathe in the stinking air.

The collection and disposal of about 500 metric tonnes of waste per day was disrupted for the seventh consecutive day today, leaving the city stinking.

“We’re forced to breathe unhealthy air,” said Gaurav Aryal, a bachelor’s level

student at Himalayan White House College, Baneshwor. “Enough is enough. Resolve this row for once and for all.”

Dr Baburam Gautam, chief, Public Health Section of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, said water contamination due to the filth was more likely. “As sewerage system and drinking water pipes in the Valley are not in a good condition, rain water mixed with the garbage can easily leak into drinking water pipes,” he said. “Above all, the garbage is already adding to the environmental pollution.”

Dr Gautam feared that the drinking water could be contaminated with bacteria, parasites and viruses due to the chemicals and medical wastes mixed in the garbage. “These are very dangerous to the human health causing diarrhoea, cholera, amoebic, typhoid, jaundice, pneumonia and other respiratory ailments,” he said. “The typhoid, pneumonia and diarrhoea patients are also on the rise lately due to the garbage problem.”

The politics on garbage has created a big problem to people as well as the civic authorities, said Rabin Man Shrestha, chief of the Environment Section, KMC. “It’s become a culture for the opposition to disrupt the garbage collection on various pretexts.”

According to the KMC, this is the 53rd time the garbage collection and disposal have been affected. It has been disrupted for 212 days since 2005, mainly by Sisdole locals. A total of

Rs 420 million was spent to address the demands of Sisdole residents.

Solution likely today

KATHMANDU: The talks held between government and the agitating Sisdole locals ended inconclusively once again on Wednesday due to the absence of concerned ministry secretaries. Another round of meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

The stalemate left the valley garbage on the streets on the seventh consecutive day. A group of Okharpauwa locals has been obstructing the garbage disposal.

“We discussed the issue and agreed on a number of points. However, the deal was not closed as concerned secretaries were not present to sign it,” said Ramesh Prasad Paudel, struggle committee coordinator.

Two rounds of talks have been held in the past week. Officials from Solid Waste Management and Resource Mobilisation Centre, Department of Environment, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Lalitpur Sub-metropolitan City and party representatives are said to have reached a consensus on the issue. The agreed upon points include development package for locals, scientific waste management, a 25-bed hospital, Okhar-pauwa-Galchhi road construction and teachers’ quota in local schools and development of the Banchare Danda landfill site, said Paudel.

Rabin Man Shrestha, chief, Environment Section, KMC, said the points were discussed but were yet to be finalised. “Everything will be settled in tomorrow’s meeting,” he added.