A new project proposed for the waste management of the Kathmandu valley has been pushed in limbo due to the lack of interest from the Investment Board and the concerned local governments. Consequently, the project aimed at making money from waste proposed to run with foreign investment is unlikely to get implemented anytime soon.
Citing the constitutional provision that local governments are responsible for waste management, the Investment Board left package-1–which includes all local governments except Kirtipur municipality–of the project in the hands of the local government. According to an official of the Board, the local units can make negotiations or settle all decisions about the project on their own now.
Meanwhile, the board still holds the second package of the project covering Kirtipur, and municipalities of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts. However, no project development agreement (PDA) has been signed with the selected companies so far.
It has been 11 years since efforts were first made to seek private investors for the valley’s waste management. In 2012, the Investment Board took the responsibility to find investors and subsequently got commitments for Rs 13 billion investment.
However, the investment has not been made yet, and it is not sure when if the project will be implemented anytime soon.
Confusion in the Kathmandu city
The board signed a Preliminary Project Development Agreement for the Kathmandu metropolitan city’s waste management project. But, the metropolitan city claims there are complications in its implementation because the board left it without any preparation.
According to the city government’s Chief Administrative Officer Rajeshwar Gyawali, the project developer NepWaste wants to change its foreign partner: from Finland’s Organic Village Pvt Ltd to a Chinese partner, and it is inviting more confusion.
A proposal for this change has reached the KMC office. But, the city officials say the KMC alone cannot decide as the first phase of the project will be implemented in Dakshinkali, Chandragiri, Nagarjuna, Tarakeshwar, Tokha, Budhanilakantha, Gokarneshwar, Kageshwari and Shankarapur municipalities also.
The city government had formed a committee under the coordination of Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi to study the project and next steps. The committee has already submitted its report two months ago stating the project should be implemented as soon as possible.
Deputy Mayor Khadgi says she has requested Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya to implement the report, stating the city is ready to move forward.
There are about 700 cleaners and 80 vehicles in the metropolis for waste management. The KMC has been expressing concerns over how to manage them after the private sector takes over.
Deputy Mayor Khadgi adds the committee’s report had suggested various alternatives for the management to ensure regular collection of garbage including giving paid leave to some cleaners and continue working with others along with private contractors.
The board claims that the vested interest of officials and businesspersons benefiting from garbage has also hampered the work to bring in foreign investment.
Meanwhile, it is also confused about the project with Clean Valley Company, a joint venture with an Indian company, for waste management in Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts.
Dream of fuel and fertiliser production
There is already a plan in place to pick up, process and dispose of the garbage collected under the project in Kathmandu. The contracted private company is said to produce electricity, gas, coal and compost from the collected garbage.
From the waste, private companies will generate 2MW of electricity and consume it at their plant. Similarly, they will produce 140,000 tons of manure and produce 14.12 million cubic metres of biogas [methane] from organic waste that they can fill in cylinders. Similarly, the landfill is expected to produce 500,000 cubic metres of gas, which will be used to generate electricity.
The company also plans to produce refuse-derived fuel (RDF) from garbage collected from Kathmandu and sell 50,000 tonnes of RDF in the market annually. Companies, according to the preliminary PDA, can only dispose of 20 per cent of waste and reuse 80 per cent.
The RDF is expected to be an alternative to the coal used in brick kilns and hotels. The first phase of the project is said to cost Rs 4.40 billion. The company will get a two-year construction period and have to pay Rs 1.80 billion royalty to the government for 20 years.
According to the preliminary PDA, the company has proposed to charge a service fee of Rs 219 per family per month for waste management, which will increase at the rate of five per cent every year.
Fees of the developers, the businesspersons and the industrialists will be determined based on the negotiation between all parties. The fee will increase at the rate of five per cent annually as well. The government has decided not to pay additional fees to developers for cleaning roads, open spaces and public places.
Meanwhile, the current dumping site of Sisdol in Okharpauwa is full of problems. Under the project, the Ministry of Urban Development is constructing another landfill site at Bancharedanda in Nuwakot with Teku as a transfer station.
Kathmandu produces 600 tonnes of garbage daily. It costs around three paisas to manage a kilogram of waste. The KMC alone has been spending Rs 350 million annually on waste management.
By handing the project over to the private sector, the management will be able to save money and generate revenue, but the project is in limbo.