Waste management and landfill sites: Bharatpur’s case

Bharatpur solid waste management problem
Waste dumped on the sides of the streets in Bharatpur. File Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

Waste management is one of the biggest problems governments are facing throughout the world. All thanks to the increasing population. However, the world is moving to a better alternative by eliminating landfills and substituting waste incineration facilities with the development of a circular economy to manage trash in the metropolis.

To manage the majority of the waste, we can limit the amount of biodegradable waste at home and encourage the 3Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle—for non-degradable waste. The whole world is shifting towards this policy due to the international commitment to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs). GHGs are found to be one of the major contributors to global warming. Meanwhile, landfill sites and waste incineration facilities are also responsible to produce GHGs.

But, unfortunately, our cities like Kathmandu and Bharatpur are taking little to no initiative towards solving their waste management problems. While Kathmandu’s case has been talked about a lot, Bharatpur looks quite neglected in the discussions although it is equally miserable.

Waste management in Bharatpur

Bharatpur solid waste management problem
Waste materials from households waiting to be picked up in Bharatpur streets. File Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

Waste management in the Bharatpur metropolitan city is so devastating that it costs the growing population their health, safe water and sanitation.

Bharatpur was declared a metropolitan city in March 2017. However, since 80 per cent of Bharatpur’s areas are in the rural part, we can help manage the majority of household waste with just a few waste management campaigns and a small investment.

Additionally, Bharatpur’s remaining 20 per cent of areas, which are more peri-urban, could be connected to the circular economy of waste management, allowing us to transform this place into a zero-waste city. But, neither the general public nor the government is taking any action in this direction.

But, not any single municipality in Nepal including Bharatpur is coming forward with plans towards zero waste, though cities from almost all parts of the world expect Nepali cities to be preparing themselves for zero-waste cities.

Learning from the neighbours

Bharatpur solid waste management problem
Mixed waste dumped at the river shoes in Bharatpur. File Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

In contrast to Nepal, it is clear that India has made significant advancements in the field of solid waste management. India appears to have the best combination of government-side and private/public sector initiatives. Both the Swachha Abhiyan in India and the Alliance of Indian Waste Pickers are effective efforts from the public and private sectors, and they are both helping India as a whole to advance into an odour-free country.

Along with India, our other neighbouring countries such as the Maldives and Bangladesh are also doing their best and are acknowledged as pioneers in the field of waste management around the world.

Building a livable community is the fundamental duty of the government towards the general people. Moreover, Nepal, particularly Bharatpur, which is a newly constituted municipality, can learn a lot from this.

Failure to learn

Bharatpur solid waste management problem
Waste being dumped near the river shores in Bharatpur. File Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

Contrary to major cities around the world that are focusing on closing landfills in the near future, Bharatpur recently announced plans to spend 1.25 billion rupees with foreign aid to open landfill sites, destroying about 10 hectares of forest land to manage the 100 tonnes of garbage per day that Bharatpur city areas are already producing.

Currently, Bharatpur dumps 80–90 tonnes of waste each day into the Narayani river. The city does not have any sustainable plans for managing waste, which will undoubtedly expand in the next years and surpass 100 tonnes each day.

Authorities are exaggerating and claiming they are developing a smart city by placing some street lamps and blacktopping the roads. Despite this, they neither have a comprehensive plan nor are taking any responsibility towards the people. In Bharatpur’s case, it should begin with waste management.

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Subedi is a freelance journalist based in Chitwan.

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