EDITORIAL: Comply with law

Urban centres directly discharge solid and liquid wastes into the rivers making them polluted and endangering aquatic life and public health

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has directed the Kathmandu Metropolis, sub-metropolises and all municipalities and District Development Committees to strictly prohibit solid waste disposal and discharge of sewage into the rivers.

The Environment Management Section under the ministry issued this directive to safeguard all the rivers and rivulets across the country from solid waste disposal and discharge of sewage.

This directive had to be issued again after the local bodies were found to be reluctant to enforce the directive issued in February 2014. Many believe that the ministry’s directive could not be implemented in the absence of elected local bodies that have remained without representation for the last 18 years.

It is also not clear when the local bodies will have their elected representatives as a commission is still working on the boundaries of the local bodies as per the new constitution. There are 204 municipalities, 14 sub-metropolises and one metropolis in the country.

All these urban centres directly discharge solid waste and sewage into the rivers making them polluted and causing adverse impact on aquatic life and public health.

According to the Solid Waste Management Act, 2011 it is the responsibility of all the municipalities to manage the solid waste and sewage by not disposing them into rivers, lakes and other water bodies.

It also clearly states that no seepage should occur and no odour should be emitted when solid waste disposal is transported from the collection centre to the landfill or dumping sites. This rule also applies even to trucks and tippers carrying river products and construction materials, including sand, boulders, crushed stones, cement and iron.

The solid waste and river products must be covered well with tarpaulin so that the highways and settlements are not polluted emitting bad odour or dust particles. But the concerned authorities have not been able to strictly implement the law.

There are around 270,000 households in the Kathmandu Valley. Almost all the households empty their solid waste products directly into the rivers and rivulets polluting them and causing serious environmental problem.

The mega campaigns launched to clean the Bagmati, Bishnumati and their tributaries have become useless because these households have connected solid waste and sewerage pipes into the drains that are ultimately emptied into the rivers.

Studies carried out in the past have proved that the Valley’s rivers have become lifeless due to discharge of solid wastes, sewage and industrial wastes.

Although the Solid Waste Management Act has clearly prohibited discharging man-made wastes into the water bodies officials at the metropolis, sub-metropolises and municipalities do not approve the house map or sketch of a house without the provision of a drainage system. This is a provision to be adopted by all municipalities.

In order to keep the rivers and water bodies free from pollution and human encroachments all the municipalities must comply with the law and directive of the ministry.

There must be a mandatory provision under which all the households should build septic tanks inside their property to properly dispose of the solid waste products, and they should also treat sewage before discharging it into the drains.

Pesticide misuse

Misuse of pesticide is reported to be in wide use in Nepal, such as the use of banned products and the wrong uses of permitted items.

This has increased a threat to public health, to the environment, and to crops and soil. Another source of danger comes from the problem of managing large stocks of date-expired pesticides in the country.

Pesticides are lethal agents and they should be disposed of in a prescribed manner.

It is better to go for organic pesticide than chemical pesticide. But the lack of quality tests for organic pesticides and a poor knowledge of their advantages among farmers and technicians have discouraged its use. The users often want quicker results which chemical pesticides offer despite their harmful effects.

Ignorance has led many farmers also to use too much chemical pesticide on crops without precautions.

A combination of effective awareness programmes, proper regulations and their strict enforcement are required to manage the chemical pesticides safely.