One of the characteristics of urban areas is their inefficiency for the proper waste management. In case of the Kathmandu Valley, garbage disposal has remained a complex issue. Years before the Sisdole Landfill Site was about to reach its saturation stage, the government selected Banchare Danda as a new landfill site. In 2019, the process of developing this location into an alternative landfill site to Sisdole disposal site began.
However, while doing so, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and other authorities had to face agitated residents who were dissatisfied with that initiative. Certain conditions such as regular spraying of chemicals over the garbage disposed and prevention of leachate leakage were agreed upon. In this way, the KMC and other local governments of the valley were able to start dumping waste on the new landfill site.
But now, a new challenge has emerged in front of the federal government and local authorities. The Banchare Danda Landfill Concern Committee has now warned that it would not allow the dumping of garbage if its demands are not met by coming mid-May. In an open letter addressed to the KMC and other relevant bodies, the pressure group has blamed the authorities for failing to carry out their responsibilities towards the waste-affected residents and the damage caused to the environment by the landfill site.
The committee has termed all of those activities as a violation of their fundamental human rights to live in a clean environment. It has also expressed its utter dissatisfaction with the government’s move to manage garbage at Banchare Danda. The key demand put up by the committee is that either the location should be turned into a garbage-free zone or resident-free zone. What now remains to be seen is the response from the side of the KMC and other responsible bodies.
In recent times, the metropolis has been making efforts to impose a ban on the disposal of hospital wastes. Because only general trashes are allowed to be disposed of, anyone found dumping hospital-related harmful waste will be slapped with a fine of Rs. 50,000. Other plans of the KMC include producing fertilisers using waste in all the 32 wards of the metropolis. Such measures may help reduce the production of waste, to a great extent. But such efforts also may not address the focal concern of the residents living close to the landfill site. Making a negotiation is very important at this point. The authorities should ensure that they listen to the genuine concerns of the local residents.
Likewise, the committee should also be ready to know the perspectives of the authorities. A common ground should be found out to ensure that wastes collected from the Kathmandu Valley continue to be managed without posing a threat to human health, their livelihoods and the environment. It is also a reminder for the authorities that a proper strategic plan has to be devised before launching any development project. Feasibility, potential impacts and ways to mitigate them must be taken into serious consideration. This can minimise cost and help receive necessary support from all the stakeholders, making sure that the plan becomes successful.
The issue could be a cue for the government to be more strategic with its project planning and implementation. When a concrete plan is not formulated, it can time and again cause problems. Therefore, before the issue turns out to be more complicated, the authorities should seriously consider different plans that will support waste management successfully without infringing upon the fundamental rights of people.