Nepali Times
Nation
Rubbish life

PICTURES and CAPTIONS by NAYANTARA GURUNG KAKSHAPATI


Once more, the residents of Nuwakot are up in arms about their landfill site for Kathmandu garbage. This time the row is over local Maoists beating up a garbage contractor. The rubbish is lying uncollected in the streets because the Teku transfer depot can\'t take any more of the 350 tons of garbage the capital generates every day.


The Teku transfer station lies on the banks of the Bagmati and is operated by the Kathmandu municipality. Waste is piled high waiting to be transferred to its final destination, the Sisdol landfill site, and is picked at by families looking for plastic, glass, metal and anything that can be sold for recycling.


There are waste pickers who have worked at the Teku transfer station for over 20 years. They have raised their children and grandchildren here. Their children are ostracised at school, they have been hurt by bulldozers, and they often fall ill. The government never kept its promise to look after them.


By 6AM, 21-year-old Shiva Rai (identity changed) has begun his day, come rain, shine or strike. "In the winter it\'s still dark when I get here, but I have to come early if I want to make a good day's earnings," he says. Originally from Kabhre, Shiva has worked here for six years earning up to Rs 300 a day selling materials for recycling.


The waste management methods of the municipal authorities have their shortcomings, but it is also up to individuals to take responsibility for the amount of waste they produce and how they deal with it.


Dangerous medical waste is thrown away in the same way as domestic garbage. Only four of the dozens of hospitals and nursing homes in Kathmandu have treatment and incineration facilities. Institutions often flout their own guidelines on how to dispose of such waste.


Shambu Ghimire lives near the Sisdol landfill site in Nuwakot. "The government promised us electricity, education, health, sanitation facilities and employment for local residents," he says. "Next week, the government said, next week.it has been over two years."

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LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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