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Valley dwellers reluctant to segregate wastes

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, Jan 26: More than a year has passed since the cabinet endorsed Solid Waste Management Act which envisions use of various techniques for managing the wastes produced in the valley.

One of the important provisions in the act is to encourage individual participation in reducing the volume of wastes to be carried to the landfill sites by managing organic wastes at the source of production.

While the Solid Waste Management and Technical Support points out that 65 percent of the total waste produced in the valley are bio-degradable, a survey carried out by the office recently in three districts of the valley revealed that the valley dwellers are hesitant of putting a small effort to separate organic wastes from the overall wastes produced at their homes.

In Kathmandu, of the total 450 tons of trash produced by the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) wards alone, the metropolis is able to collect 300 tons. The private sector collects around 100 tons of garbage. The KMC, Nepal Pollution Control and Environmental Monitoring Center (NEPCEMAC) and Bio Camp Nepal are involved in composting the wastes.

Between 2002 and 2011, the KMC had sold more than 6000 compost bins of 100 liters capacity, each costing Rs 1500, to encourage composting at household level. However, only few people are actually composting the kitchen waste at present.

Established in 2004, NEPCEMAC collects wastes from the KMC wards 15, 16, and some parts of 3, 4 and 5, covering about 1300 families. On an average, 1000 kg of wastes is produced in those areas every day. Though the KMC has its own composting plant at Teku, it is defunct at present.

The situation in Lalitpur is a little different. Despite the shortage of adequate technicians and resources, the municipality office has been able to manage the wastes produced from the core city area very efficiently. Several private sectors, NGOs and local groups were also found active in the collection, transportation and composting of solid waste.

A survey in the municipality among hospitals, businesses, hotel, restaurants, government and non-government offices and schools has found that each individual produced around 2 kg of garbage per day. The Lalitpur Sub-Metropolitan City collects around 42 tons of garbage each day. Organic wastes, at 78.84 percent, comprised most of the solid wastes produced from the households, whereas institutional areas were more likely to produced paper wastes which stood at 43 percent.

According to environment and sanitation section of Lalitpur Sub-metropolitan City, 75 tons of solid waste is generated daily in the area. However, the municipal office currently collects only around 60 tons due to limited resources. The remaining 15 tons are being managed at individual levels, reads the unpublished report of the Solid Waste Management and Technical Resource Centre. However, even in Lalitpur, source-segregation is mostly practiced in wards 22 and 13 only.

As per a survey in June of last year, 29 tons of solid waste is generated in Bhaktapur per day. However, only 25 tons of the waste is collected through both municipality and private agencies. Bhaktapur Municipality ensures that waste collection is conducted 2-3 times a day from the streets and public places. As in the other districts, the organic waste consisted of the largest portion of the wastes generated by the households at 83 percent. The district generated 10 percent plastic and 5 percent paper wastes.

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INTERVIEW

´Kathmandu Valley will see remarkable change within a year´

Dr Sumitra Amatya
Kathmandu Valley will see remarkable change within a year: Dr Sumitra Amatya, Executive Director, Solid Waste Management and Technical Support Center

Why has the concept of segregating waste at the point of origination failed to gain currency in the valley?

The Solid Waste Management Technical Support Centre provides technical support to municipalities. But the main challenge is mentality of people in general. We can see people traveling by car throwing garbage into the rivers. Many people feel that their responsibility is over once they give away the waste to the municipality´s door-to-door service.

But with the Solid Waste Management Act endorsed in 2011, municipalities now can file case at the District Court and District Administration Office against those who do not comply with waste management rules. In the last one and half years, we have completed internal preparations and are set to intervene at the community level.

What further plans do you have?

Our recent surveys in all three districts of the valley suggest that most of the wastes dumped at the landfill sites are of organic nature that could be managed at source. Similarly, more than 65 percent of household wastes can be composted into manure. The land-filling concept dates back to 30s and 40s when very few wastes were produced. But now there is dearth of land for new landfill sites.

We do have success stories in managing organic wastes in several municipalities of the country such as Dang and Dhankuta. Similarly, several communities of the valley have also set an example. We will coordinate with the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, using these stories as references.

What kind of punishments will be imposed on those who refuse to comply?

It is hard to believe that one who owns a house in the capital is unable to afford a compost bin to manage bio-degradable wastes. We are looking forward to making each and every household zero producers of organic wastes.

There is also a provision of one year jail term and Rs 100,000 fine to those households who do not heed the warnings and dump garbage at public places and water resources. Similarly, the municipality can be tough towards the law breakers by charging double or triple amount to those who do not segregate garbage. Likewise, the municipality can deprive of the door-to-door services for effective practice of waste segregation at home.

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In 1992, when the government lacked a vision to manage the ever-increasing volume of wastes in the Kathmandu Valley, a group of women took an initiative for waste management in the valley.

Two decades later, Women Environment Preservation Committee (WEPCO), an NGO formed by the same group of women, has proved how heaps of stinking wastes can be converted into reliable source of income.

Today, WEPCO collects garbage from wards 1, 2 and 10 of Lalitpur Sub-metropolitan City, and earns more than Rs 150,000 per month. Similarly, they earn Rs 3,000 every day by selling non-biodegradable wastes such as plastics and metal.

Arguably the first organization of its kind, WEPCO has some 35 employees apart from a dozen workers, who collect and take garbage to several stations where the organic wastes are segregated from the inorganic ones.

WEPCO has successfully managed recycling of household wastes in Lalitpur. “We have great expertise in developing education programs, mobilizing communities, demonstrating technologies and empowering women to make changes in their lives and environments,” says Yamuna Devi Shrestha, a founder member of WEPCO.
Shrestha shares her experience that the demand of organic manure is increasing with public awareness of the hazard of chemicals such as insecticides and pesticides.

It takes a minimum of 18 days to prepare compost manure during the summer season, whereas around three months in winter season.

Currently, she also works as a resource person in the organization where the students from the Kathmandu University, the members of various eco clubs receive trainings on organic waste management.

The WEPCO has succeeded in producing biogas from the biodegradable wastes from which the Buddhanilkantha School saves two cylinders of gas of 14.2 kg capacity every day.

The quantity is around 10 percent of its cooking gas need and saves more than Rs 200,000 per year.

The female oriented organization has bagged an internationally recognized Gender Equality Award in 2011. The WEPCO also received various national and international awards in 1996 and 2003.

Source: Republica DailyLink: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=48877
Published on 2013-01-26 07:00:04
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About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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