Thursday, November 08, 2001

Future of Okharpauwa landfill site still uncertain

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Nov 7 - The future of the 250 million-rupee landfill site at Okharpauwa is still uncertain as the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), the prime user of the site, is not convinced that the solution is indeed practical.

Municipality officials say the new landfill site being constructed by the government will cost about Rs 680,000 per day for the municipalities because it is located far away from the city centre.

The Solid Waste Management and Resource Mobilisation Centre (SWMRMC) of Ministry of Local Development is constructing infrastructures to turn this 430 ropanis of land at the northern fringe of the Valley, Sisdol of Okharpauwa VDC, into a landfill site. Okharpauwa has been regarded as the proper alternative for solid waste management in the Kathmandu Valley, at least for the next 5 to 7 years.

But KMC is still indifferent to the solution being sought since last two years after the previous landfill site at Gokarna was filled up.

Mayor of Kathmandu Keshav Sthapit has repeatedly opposed the government’s selection of the site, saying that it is not practical and is "motivated by the personal interest of political figures." Instead, he has asked the government to provide 200 ropanis of land outside the city area, where a composting plant could be established to manage solid waste.

"Everybody knows that dumping 300-400 metric tonnes of solid waste at a place as far away as Okharpauwa, about 28 kilometres away from the city, in trucks is not possible," the mayor said. "This will only create unwanted hazards everyday."

Head of KMC’s Environment Department Shanta Ram Pokharel said KMC has been asking the government to provide a nearer location, where a composting plant could be established because solid waste is not a thing to throw away but to reuse it.

"We have been asking the government to provide us some land in Halchowk or Chobhar areas but our voice has never been heard," Pokharel said.

But he did not say whether KMC would deny using Okharpauwa or not. Rather he added that the present facility of vehicles KMC now has is insufficient to transport solid waste there.

Solid Waste Section Chief of KMC Rajesh Manandhar said the biggest problem KMC will have to face now is because of the distance. The site lies 28 kilometres away from the city centre and the vehicles will have to face long traffic jams, especially at the Balaju Bypass.

He estimated that the transportation alone would cost KMC about Rs. 250 million if they use the new landfill site. Instead, the government should use this money to acquire land in nearer location, he said.

KMC presently has seven compactor trucks and one open dump truck to transport 650 cubic metres of solid waste that the Kathmanduites produce everyday.

"We will have to make four trips of eight trucks to travel 28 kilometres each carrying 20 cubic metre of garbage in narrow roads. That is quite difficult if not impossible. And one cannot expect all the vehicles to be in condition everyday," says Manandhar.

However, Devi Prasad Subedi, general manager of SWMRMC, says that finding a site near the city is not possible.

"We agree, the proposed site is far away. But there is no other way than choosing that place to make a landfill site," Subedi said. "And the distance is not very far in the present day."

Subedi added that the construction of roads has been completed except for the last three kilometres and two bridges and a public notice for land acquisition is being published soon.

Kathmandu and Lalitpur have been dumping the wastes along the banks of the Bagmati river for the last seven months. Earlier, the garbage was used to fill the area around Guheshwori and Jorpati until protests arose as birds hit aeroplanes in the nearby Tribhuwan International Airport.
[Kathmandu Thursday November 08, 2001 Kartik 23, 2058.]