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Garbage disposal dispute is back

NIRJANA SHARMA

KATHMANDU, May 15: Locals obstructing waste disposal at Okharpauwa and Sisdol dumping sites had become a thing of the past. But the old “enmity” between Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and the locals seems to have resurfaced with the announcement by the latter of a fresh halt to disposal activity.

Locals of Jeetpurphedi and Goldhunga near the Pasang Lhamu Highway on the way to Okharpauwa garbage dumping site have threatened to stop garbage trucks if their demands remain unaddressed by May 30.

If the garbage disposal is halted, more than 300 tons of solid waste a day can accumulate into heaps on capital city roads. Of the total of 450 tons of trash produced in KMC alone, the metropolis is able to collect 300 tons. The private sector collects around 100 tons. Some 80 garbage trucks reach the dumping site through the same route every day.

Basu Lama, coordinator of the local struggle committee, complained that the garbage vehicles have created a nuisance in various ways. The 26-km highway is damaged at several places and this is causing more road accidents. Local fury erupted after a youth was killed on the highway last month by a garbage truck.
Similarly, liquids from the waste leak from the vehicles and this has made many locals ill. Though the government has guaranteed all basic facilities to the locals of Okharpauwa, those in Jeetpurphedi and Goldhunga have been sidelined, claimed Lama.

He complained that an agreement reached between locals, the metropolis and the ministry in 2007 is yet to be implemented. The 12-point accord mentioned that the government would ensure all basic facilities such as free health services, drinking water supply and timely maintenance of roads.

The agreement also said that the garbage vehicles should have returned from the area by noon. However, the heavily-loaded trucks have been obstructing public transport till 3 pm, Lama added.

“Around 15,000 people living in Jeetpurphedi and Goldhunga are victims of government apathy,” he added. The two VDCs are 10 to 15 km from the dumping sites.

According to KMC Environment Division chief Rabin Man Shrestha, KMC and the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) have formed a six-member committee led by Chakramani Sharma, chief of the environment section at MoFALD, to address the problem. The locals had submitted a memorandum to KMC in March. However, the government called them for talks only on Tuesday after they issued a three-day ultimatum against waste disposal. The government has asked them to come for talks on May 30.

Meanwhile, Environment Division chief Shrestha said that fearing easy arrest if they openly halt garbage disposal at the dumping sites the locals have raised a new issue. Under the Solid Waste Management Act 2011, an individual or an institution can be fined Rs 1,000 to Rs 100,000 or slapped a three-month jail term or both, depending on the volume of waste obstructed from disposal.

Since 2011, Okharpauwa and Sisdol locals had not halted waste disposal following a renewed agreement to address their demands.

The ministry had resolved the issue after the locals halted garbage disposal 68 consecutive times in 2010 and 2011. “The current act on solid waste authorizes us to take the help of security personnel if locals halt waste disposal illegally,” said Shrestha.

However, Lama countered that violence could occur if the government tried to suppress any protest. “We will turn back all the garbage trucks from Ashtanarayan Hall, Balaju if the dialogue remains inconclusive,” he said.

Source: Republica Daily

Link: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=54750

Published on 2013-05-16 09:01:55
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About nirjanasharma

Journalist.

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