Failure to manage Capital’s waste shows the local authorities have failed to internalise their duties and responsibilities
Waste management has always been one of the major challenges in the Capital, mainly because of the mismanagement of the concerned municipalities and non-cooperation of the federal government when it comes to providing landfill sites. The Sisdol-based landfill site which has been in use for several years has now been overused and the locals are opposing to its further use. Another landfill site at Banchare Danda, which is located 2.8km north of Sisdol, has not come into operation, as the government is yet to build a bridge over a creek to connect with the Sisdol site. The Ministry of Local Development had bought 792 ropanis of land at Banchare Danda for Rs 590 million in 2007 to use it as a landfill site. According to a study, this site can be used as a dumping site for 50 years to come. After spending 11 years and wasting resources, the government finally awarded the contract to an Italy-based builder to build the sanitary landfill site on June 15. The final agreement is yet to be reached with the builder. The project, besides handling the waste, is also supposed to produce bio-gas from a plant to be set up on the Banchare Danda landfill site. It will take another three years for it to come into full operation.
Until then, all the municipalities in the Kathmandu Valley must work in tandem to manage the waste that has put the Valley’s life in great difficulty. Due to unavailability of the landfill site, most of the waste produced in the Valley is dumped on roadsides. This has not only spoiled urban beauty but also has caused huge environmental degradation, pollution and, poses serious health hazard. People had high hopes with the newly elected officials at the local levels, as the constitution has given them immense power and authority to handle the local level issues, that the waste management issue would be sorted out for good. But they have miserably failed even to manage waste and address drinking water woes — the primary responsibilities of all the municipalities.
According to the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, around 1,000 metric tonnes of waste is dumped everyday at the Sisdole site. Experts say only 11 per cent of the waste produced from the Valley need to be dumped in a landfill site if the total waste is segregated into bio-degradable, plastic items and non-biodegradable categories from the sources — households, hotels and restaurants, business centres and industries. As over 70 per cent of the total waste in the Valley is bio-degradable, it can be one of the main sources of income for the municipalities if they collectively install plants for bio-fuel, manure fertiliser and animal feed. The Solid Waste Management Act, 2011 has also clearly stated that the local levels must segregate the waste and transport it to a particular destination, recycling station or bio-gas or compost plant. Two years ago, the KMC installed a bio-gas plant at Teku with the support from the European Union, aiming at producing 300kg of manure, 300 cubic metre of bio-fuel and 14 kilowatts of electricity. It has now stopped functioning due to KMC’s negligence. This plant, though small in size, has proven that we can earn cash from trash, create jobs and keep the environment. The concerned authorities must internalise their duties and responsibilities and act sincerely.
Seven persons, including three minors, have succumbed to swine flu and Hong Kong flu in the past three weeks in Kanchanrup Municipality, Saptari, and some others are suffering from the diseases. But lack of medical experts in the municipality has affected their treatment. According to Damber Gupta, chief of the Department of Health of the municipality, there was confusion as to how to proceed with the treatment of the patients, as their treatment must be carried out under the supervision of medical experts.
Nepal’s patient-to-doctor ratio is one of the lowest in the world, and when it comes to experts and specialists, the situation is worrisome. Many a time in several parts of the country, especially the remote regions, patients at times die even due to lack of general medical care. The government needs to pay attention to the issue and make arrangements so that medical experts can be made available at the earliest when needed, or when there is a crisis situation. Though authorities in Kanchanrup municipality say the situation is not alarming yet, all concerned do well if it is taken as a wake-up call so that a crisis situation in future can be appropriately dealt with.