We could look forward to a cleaner city if the civil service were to be held more accountable for its sanitation

Garbage heaps on the capital's streets could not have resurfaced at a more inopportune moment, when dozens of candidates representing different political parties or as individual contenders are vying for the mayoral post. Despite attempts to sell lofty dreams to the public while campaigning, the people have just one question to the candidates: can anyone rid the capital of its waste problem once and for all? This is the third time in as many months that Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) staff have been unable to collect and transport waste to the landfill site at Okharpauwa, Nuwakot, some 26 km away from Kathmandu. This is because the residents living along the Pasang Lhamu Highway, on the way to the Sisdole landfill, have been obstructing vehicles ferrying waste materials. They will not allow vehicles to pass unless the Mudku-Tinpiple road section of the highway is widened and upgraded. Time and again, the residents of the area have called off their agitation following assurances from the concerned authorities.

But this time, they are unlikely to back off for want of concrete action.

The Kathmandu Valley generates about 1,000 tons of garbage a day. All 18 municipalities of the valley, barring Bhaktapur, depend on the Sisdole landfill site to manage their waste. So even without the locals having to take to the streets, the concerned authorities should have been maintaining the road round the clock. Instead, the Ba-laju-Trishuli road has remained in a dilapidated state for the last eight years, with the Mudku-Tinpiple section in even worse shape. Sisdole, which has been taking the valley's waste since 2005, was actually meant to be a short-term solution to Kathmandu's growing garbage problem.

And although it isoverflowing with garbage, the construction of a bigger, more systematic landfill site at Banchare Danda, in the vicinity of Sisdole, has missed multiple deadlines already.

Apart from being an eyesore, unattended heaps of stinking garbage everywhere are a serious health hazard, as they attract flies, rats and insects, which, in turn, could lead to the spread of infectious diseases.

With the coronavirus pandemic still far from over in Nepal, the last thing we want is an outbreak of diseases like cholera, hepatitis, dengue fever, scrub typhus and influenza associated with poor hygiene.

Also, just when tourism is making a rebound after a hiatus of almost two years, even if we cannot do much to fix the air pollution, we must keep our streets clean. Actually, Kathmandu's garbage problem is nothing new and has been there since the ushering in of democracy in 1990. The KMC, of course, becomes an easy target of the people every time garbage starts piling on the streets. But isn't the Department of Roads responsible for constructing the access road to Sisdole? Why has it taken so long to build a few kilometres of roads even when there is sufficient budget? Also why is the Ministry of Urban Development unable to speed up the construction of the new landfill site at Banchare Danda? Perhaps, we could look forward to a cleaner Kathmandu if Nepal's civil service were to be held more accountable for the city's sanitation.

No shortage of LPG

Nepal LP Gas Industries Association has urged the consumers not to panic and resort to hoarding cooking gas, saying there was enough supply of the essential fuel in stock. The association has said that there is no problem in supplying LPG even though one might have to wait for some days to get cylinders refilled. In some parts of the Kathmandu Valley, people are said to have resorted to panic buying, fearing a shortage of cooking gas in the near future. People got panicky after Nepal Oil Corporation stated that it had incurred losses of Rs 5.19 billion in the last two weeks.

The government has fixed Rs 1,600 for a cylinder of LPG. But in some areas, the local dealers are reported to have charged as much as Rs 1,800 from new tenants who recently moved to those areas. LPG dealers are known to create an artificial shortage of cooking gas whenever there are rumours that its price would be hiked in a day or two so that they can make a quick buck by taking advantage of the fluid situation. Here comes the role of the concerned government agencies, which should take legal action against those who create artificial shortages of the most essential goods.

A version of this article appears in the print on May 05, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.