Reduce, reuse and recycle
KATHMANDU, SEP 04 -
Mounds of trash accumulating on the streets have become an inseparable part of Valley life for Kathmandu denizens. With regular protests by garbage collectors and against the dumping of garbage by local residents from landfill areas, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City continually faces great difficulty in managing and properly disposing of waste.
Now, the Kathmandu Valley is witnessing a rise in cases of diarrhoea and cholera, thanks to the lack of proper waste disposal and management. Around 15 people were diagnosed with cholera just last month in Kathmandu, caused apparently by contaminated water, according to the Sukhraraj Tropical and Disease Control Hospital in Kathmandu.
On one hand, the negligence of private companies working under the KMC to regularly collect garbage from households in the Valley has caused people to dump their uncollected waste in open areas or in nearby rivers and riversides. On the other hand, a lack of awareness and knowledge among the residents themselves, even through a basic ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ programme, is further exacerbating the problem.
Since 1999, the KMC, through a bidding process, has allowed private companies to collect garbage from households. Since then, the companies have been collecting the waste for dumping at landfill sites in Sisdole of Nuwakot district.
According to Rabin Man Shrestha, chief of the KMC’s Environment Division, of a total 600 tonnes of garbage generated every day inside the Valley, around 65 percent is organic, which means that the waste can be used for compost manure, bio-fuel and even to generate electricity.
“One of the biggest challenges in managing waste from households, hotels, hospitals, industries and private institutions is the lack of proper waste segregation at the source itself before collection by authorities,” said Shrestha.
Household waste, both degradable and non-degradable, is thoroughly mixed at the source. Although most of the waste is degradable and can be used as compost, households are unaware of this, said Shrestha.
Meantime, in an effort to implement effective waste management strategies and programmes inside the Valley, the government has endorsed the Solid Waste Management Act (SWMA) 2011, which is being implemented by the Solid Waste Management Technical Support Centre (SWMTSC), under the Ministry of Urban Development from this fiscal year.
Sumitra Amatya, executive director of SWMTSC, said the main objective of the Act is to create awareness among the public on managing waste on their own by first separating it according to category and then reusing or recycling as necessary. “The waste, whether it be from households, hotels, hospitals or industries, should be first treated before being released for collection by the KMC. We know that most of the waste generated in the Valley is degradable. So, we are trying to encourage the people and institutions to work towards minimising waste production and using it in a proper way to keep the environment clean and healthy,” said Amatya. The new Act has provisions to penalise offenders improperly managing and disposing of solid waste. Two months ago, the KMC also introduced a directive under the SWMA to properly manage waste by focussing on reducing, reusing and recycling at both the individual and the community level.
According to Amatya, the government had earlier formed a high-level team to encourage public-private partnerships (PPP) to manage the Valley’s waste about two years ago by inviting potential bidders interested in managing waste in a sustainable fashion by focussing on composting, manure, bio-fuel production and electricity generation. Out of the eighteen private firms that applied for the process, eight were selected. “However, the process has not progressed any more,” said Amatya.
A municipal council meeting also decided to fix a ceiling charge, ranging from Rs 185 to Rs 60,000 per household per month depending on the amount of waste produced. The metropolis has fixed a separate garbage collection fee for households, schools, industries, hospitals and hotels on the basis of the hazardous waste collected.
“There is a need to change people’s perceptions about waste and its effective management. The public should play a responsible role in reducing, reusing and recycling waste,” Amatya said.
Posted on: 2012-09-04 08:39