Sun, 10 Dec, 2023

Littering in Kathmandu

By Shrijak Shrestha

Photo Courtesy: Subash Prajapati Strolling through the streets of Kathmandu can be a mixed experience. Sometimes it’s pleasant looking at different people going about their business. Other times you lose your nerves because of all the noise and pollution. Well, we can blame the government for the bad traffic and air pollution, but we all play a major part in all the garbage lying around the streets.  For some reason it has become perfectly normal and socially acceptable for people to litter on the streets in our culture. We can find people throwing waste on the ground every other second while we are walking on the streets. There are wrappers, packets, cigarette buds, plastic...etc everywhere we look around the city. On a single stroll one can expect to find kids and adults throwing wrappers and packets and worse spitting, people throwing waste from the windows of moving vehicles, smokers throwing cigarette buds and shopkeepers and street vendors throwing their waste on the streets. It’s sometimes amusing listening to the same people who litter complain about all the filth around the streets. There seems to be a mentality among the people that if it’s not inside their personal property it’s someone else’s problem. The government is accountable for this problem as well. Trash bins are rare and there are not enough awareness campaigns or strict implementation of laws to discourage littering. Many people are just not aware that they should not litter. There are no awareness campaigns for discouraging littering like the anti-smoking campaigns running right now. The government does employ street sweepers who sweep the streets on major parts of the city twice  a day. But who will clean up the trash around smaller roads and alleys that accounts for more than 70% of the city? The Kathmandu Metropolitan city employs more than 800 hundred sweepers most of whom are females. They have the burden of cleaning up all the mess that people carelessly leave on the streets. Their job is full of health risks and the pay isn’t great as well. They are in constant danger of illness due to their prolonged exposure to pollution. They are in risk of road accidents as well. The government must focus on the littering problem in our city and conduct massive awareness campaigns and implement stricter rules to discourage littering and engrain it as socially unacceptable in the Nepali society. It would help in keeping the city clean as well as aid the street sweepers.