Tue, 30 May, 2023

Heaps of Waste

By Navaraj Kharel

Photo Courtesy: Navaraj Kharel

Everyday as I pass by the bridges in Kathmandu valley, the breeze of air bring the most irresistible smell. I cover my nose and move on. I see heaps of trash and wastes collected around from Kathmandu valley being placed at the side of the river. A large amount of trash is produced every day. With increasing number of people every day, the waste production has increased significantly. Wastes and Garbages thrown on the streets and riverbanks, are becoming a headache to Kathmandu.

The routine of waste generation starts from early morning. The household waste, mainly consists of organic waste, plastic waste and paper waste. Organic waste plays a huge part in the waste production. Eventually the leftover rice, meat fat, banana peels and other organic waste carefully packed together in a plastic bag and thrown on the street usually to end up burst open by dogs, cats and passing vehicles and finally ooze out into a stinking mess. According to a research, “Key household waste constituents include 71% organic wastes, 12% plastics, 7.5% paper and paper products, 5% dirt and construction debris and 1% hazardous wastes”.

At first I did not notice the trash that was thrown on the street, but when it came to me, I was so mad then. Somebody left a bag of trash by the side of the gate and it had a foul smell. I carried the trash up to the van that regularly collects our trash. This evoked my thought process. We, the superior of all beings gifted with the ability of judgment are only considerate about oneself. Keeping ones surrounding clean will not give us liberty to throw trash in others. I would like to call this as irresponsibility. A moral person will always think of society as a whole rather than themselves. Early in the morning we can see trash collectors in our locality. If everyone woke up a little bit early, then they never had to throw the trash rampantly. It is a dirty system.

While I was walking by the bank of Dhobikohla, a group of people separating the waste caught my eye and I had a small conversation with one of the people over there. Here’s what he said:

Bhakta Bahadur Bagdes

Can you introduce yourself? I am Bhakta Bahadur Bagdes. I am from Udayapur, Gaighat.

Are you in charge here? No, I have a superior. I usually go to help the workers in the collection area.

What is your timing for waste collection? We usually go in the morning and collect waste from the area assigned to us. Our work is finished at 2:00 pm after the container is loaded with waste and the vehicle moves towards the dumping site.

How is the waste material disposed? Do you mix the waste in the river? First of all, people who work here separate the plastic waste and decomposable waste. Then they sell the plastic waste. To my knowledge, it goes to India. No, the waste is not mixed with river. The decomposable waste from valley goes there and is buried. The government dumping site is located in Sistol, Nagarkot.

You all work with waste. Is that affecting your health? What facilities does the company provide you in regards to your health? Our duty is to collect and separate waste. There is nothing, particularly as a facility, but they take us to the hospital if we got ill. And sometimes while separating waste we get small cuts and wounds. They provide us with necessary injections for that. The place stinks so much.

What do you do after all the waste has been sent to the dumping site? We usually use insecticides and white powder to eliminate foul smell. If it is rainy season we do nothing.

“Sometimes I do not see a single bag of trash on my way. I think to myself, "It must be Environment Day today. The volunteers from different organizations might have worked today to make the city clean." We should now be concerned about our duty as a responsible citizen. We as an individual can start practically separating the waste at household level. Our small effort can play a part of a solution to the waste problem and together we all can make a difference.