A landfill site's lifespan can be extended by many more years if we can reduce the amount of refuse going there

Already touted as one of the most polluted cities in the world, the uncollected garbage from the streets of the capital only adds to its tarnished image.

Garbage has been piling on the streets and lanes of Kathmandu after the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) stopped picking up refuse as the road leading to the Sisdol landfill site was damaged by the monsoon rains about a month ago. A meeting of the related officials under the coordination of the KMC mayor on Tuesday, however, agreed to collect the trash from early Wednesday morning and transport it to Sisdol, although much will depend on whether the locals there will allow it to do so. The Sisdol locals have been obstructing the transport of waste for the past few days after a 70-year-old woman died supposedly of cholera, although no such virus was found during a test of drinking water and stool samples of five persons.

The Kathmandu Valley is said to generate 1,045 tons of garbage a day, with Kathmandu accounting for 515 tons and Lalitpur Municipality 130 tons. All 18 municipalities of the valley, barring Bhaktapur, depend on the Sisdol landfill site to manage their waste.

A lot more waste would have been generated in the valley if households did not try to reduce it at the source itself. Sisdol has been taking the valley's waste since 2005, and it is already overflowing with trash although a new, more systematic at Banchare Danda, situated at the border between Nuwakot and Dhading district, is still under construction. The new landfill site, spread over 1,792 ropanis of land, was to have been completed by October last year for the Dasain festival. The new deadline was then pushed to June 15 this year, but the landfill site, being constructed at a cost of more than Rs 1.9 billion, is far from complete. The landfill site at Banchare Danda is expected to manage the valley's waste for the next 50 years, while helping to preserve the environment at the same time.

Kathmandu's residents are not new to the waste management problem. They have seen enough of it in the last 30 years, caused especially by the political parties in the opposition to create trouble for the government and tarnish its image. The locals were often instigated by the parties into putting up new demands, many of which could never be met. Thus, if Kathmandu Valley's waste is to transported to the new landfill site at Banchare Danda without a hiccup in the coming years or decades, the concerns and demands of the locals should be negotiated and fulfilled where feasible beforehand. Thereafter, any attempt to cause obstruction to the smooth transportation of trash should be dealt with firmly, if necessary by force. A landfill site's lifespan can be extended by many more years if we can reduce the amount of refuse going there. This means recycling materials such as plastics and bottles as much as possible and converting kitchen waste into organic fertiliser. This is not only good for the environment but also for the country's economy. The more we recycle the less waste there is, which means fewer number of trips to the landfill site daily, thus saving much money on the transport cost, a major component in the overall expense of taking care of a ton of refuse.

Rules for entry, exit

The Jhapa District Administration Office has made it mandatory for all Indian nationals entering Nepal via the Kakarbhitta border point to produce a negative PCR report or COVID-19 vaccination card issued by the Indian government. Other entry points in the district, however, are still closed, citing rising cases of COVID-19. Jhapa CDO Shrawan Kumar Timisina said Indian nationals would be allowed to enter Nepal from the customs point only after producing the PCR report or COVID vaccination card.

However, the locals and business community had been lobbying for opening the customs point citing that the prolonged ban on the movement of people from both sides of the border had caused an adverse impact on trade and business. Nepali nationals are also required to produce a negative PCR report or a COVID vaccination card to visit India. As per the government's decision, movement of people from both the sides was banned from April 29 after the government imposed prohibitory orders in the districts where cases of COVID-19 were rising beyond the permissible level. Although the prohibitory order imposed in the districts caused inconvenience to the locals, it helped break the chain of the virus infection.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 2 2021, of The Himalayan Times.