KATHMANDU, JUNE 6
As the nation joins the world today to mark the World Environment Day, the federal capital Kathmandu is confronted with the perennial problem of piling garbage, which in turn has led to river pollution.
The garbage dumped in Kathmandu, which remains unmanaged for many days has been contributing to environmental pollution. Regular waste management has not been done in the capital for the past four months. As a result, the city is reeking, making it unbearable to walk or drive past the area where the garbage is dumped.
Most of the garbage is dumped on the river side, at street crossings and on the roadside. With the monsoon starting in a matter of days, the runoff water flows on the streets and mixes in the capital’s rivulets.
Most of the garbage collected in the capital is dumped on public land and roadsides close to the banks of the Bagmati, Rudramati, Bishnumati and Manohara rivers and Hanumante and Godawari rivulets. “This garbage directly mixes into the river, leading to river pollution,” said Ashok Maharjan of Godawori who is involved in environment research.
The solid waste generated in Kathmandu has not been removed as the locals of Sisdole and Bancharedanda in Nuwakot have prevented the garbage trucks from transporting the waste to the dumping site in their area. Sisdole is the dumping site where Kathmandu’s waste used to be managed of late. The locals have put forth various demands and barred the entry of garbage trucks in their area.
Although the clean-up campaign has helped raise civil consciousness, the problem of garbage on public land and the streets will not be resolved until those flouting the rules are booked. Activists and volunteers of Bagmati Cleanup Mega Campaign have been piling up pressure on the authorities regarding this matter.
The Mega Campaign is running into its 473rd week and continuing to remove garbage from the river every Saturday.
But the latest problem in removing the garbage has worsened.
Piles of garbage on the riverside in the hot and rainy season has worried Kathmandu denizens as it trigger disease outbreak. The High Powered Bagmati Civilisation Development Committee has started picking up and managing solid waste collected from the river and leftovers on the riverbank. “The waste collected from the river gets back to the river if they are not cleared on time,” said activist and Committee board member Dr Mala Kharel. Efforts to clean the river would turn futile in the absence of timely disposal of collected waste.
Kharel assessed that the Kathmandu folks continue to use riverbanks as dumping sites for household waste and this has made the campaign to restore the rivers in Kathmandu valley a herculean task.
“Yesterday, a large number of activists gathered near the Sinamangal-based Guheshwori Secondary School to clean the river,” according to Kishore Singh Shahi.
In the course of the campaign, bushes were cleared from the river banks and a door-to-door programme was held to make the people aware regarding the importance of managing the disposal of household garbage. “The separation of wastes at its origin (households) is required to make waste management easier.
Though degradable waste can be used as raw materials for organic fertilisers and used for rooftop framing, or sold, the practice is yet to be widely followed by people,” it is said.
The Bagmati River cleanup mega-campaign has been in force for the past nine years.
Under the campaign that kicked off on 19 May 2013, two hours each Saturday morning are dedicated to carrying out river cleaning work.
Influenced by the mega campaign, cleanliness campaign has been launched for other valley-based rivers.
Presently, river cleanup campaign is going on at 25 places in the valley and it is taking place at 109 locations outside the valley.
The clean-up campaign took place at Godawari in Lalitpur district and in the Hanumante River in Bhaktapur.
Waste management in cities, including the Kathmandu valley (Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur) and Pokhara has been a major concern for quite long. However, the problem is yet to be resolved despite the tall promises of the authorities concerned time and again.
People’s representatives, who are responsible for managing waste at the local level, often make waste management an issue only during elections.
In particular, garbage collection has been halted in Kathmandu valley for many days. So, solid waste has piled up in every part of the valley, compounding the problems facing the residents of the valley. Likewise, tourism has been hit by failure to manage garbage, complained tourism entrepreneurs.
As far as the issue of waste management in Kathmandu valley is concerned, the newly elected mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Balendra Shah has pledged to resolve the matter. Time will tell how far Mayor Shah will keep his words.