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Solid Waste Management in the city of Kathmandu, Nepal

The rapid population growth and urbanization in developing countries as Nepal constitute a threat to the environment. The urbanisation result in more waste and concurrently the development result in new life patterns, standard of living and attitudes change the waste composition. New industries are erected that changes the waste composition to include more and more hazardous waste. Along with the development comes the problems with solid waste and the situation in Kathmandu is at the moment precarious. The environmental problem caused by improper solid waste management in the expanding cities is one of the most urgent improvement issues for the government of Nepal. The main objective of this study was to make a survey of the conflicts of the solid waste management in Kathmandu and to identify issues for further investigations. The work was focused on Gokarna landfill site and the dumping of solid waste at Balkhu, along Bagmati River. To investigate the current situation in Kathmandu field studies and visits were carried out both at Gokarna landfill site and the present dumping site along Bagmati River as well as interviews with people involved in the solid waste management in Kathmandu.

The results of the survey showed that co-operation between the municipality, governmental institutions and the private sector that do not exist today are necessary to enable improvements of the solid waste management. Additionally environmental laws and regulations with proper enforcements are needed. It came clear that education of the people in environmental issues such as solid waste management is essential to increase the environmental awareness and improve the situation. To clear what threat the sites constituted to the surroundings the water quality and the waste compositions were investigated. The water quality analysis of water samples taken in Bagmati River upstream and downstream the dumping at Balkhu showed that the water was heavily polluted, though further investigations are needed to clear to what extent the dumping at Balkhu contributes to the pollution.

Literature studies showed that the pollution of Bagmati River has increased during later years. A handpicking analysis was carried out on one tonne of waste for dumping at Balkhu showed that the organic fraction was as high as 67 %. Proper waste separation in combination with a compost plant in Kathmandu would greatly reduce the volume of waste for landfilling. Laboratory studies showed that the waste contains metals as well as heavy metals that eventually will leak out to the surroundings. Since the site does not have any fundamental protective structure, the dumping at Balkhu is considered to constitute a serious environmental threat that can not continue.

A model, developed by  municipality, Sweden, was used as a checklist and structural model for inventory and risk assessment of the terminated Gokarna landfill site in Kathmandu to investigate the possibilities of using the model in future environmental inventories and risk assessments of old landfills in developing countries. The model showed to be useful in developing countries since the so-called number of uncertainty enable carrying out the inventory and the risk assessment even though expertise, information, lab facilities etc. are insufficient in the country. Since the model is meant to be used with a minimum of resources it is interesting to use in a developing country such as Nepal. The way the model investigates which landfill/dump that causes the worst environmental impact it gives the possibility to use available resources where they are most needed. By experiences interviews and field visits appear to be the most useful and feasible methods of collecting informative data for the investigation. Results from the water quality investigation, field visits and interviews were used in the investigation, following the risk assessment model, to eventually classify Gokarna landfill site as 2 (B) i.e. further investigations are needed to clear if the site constitutes a concrete environmental conflict. By comparing different solutions for the terminated Gokarna landfill site it came clear that a proper closure with possibly cover and treatment is the most reasonable alternative.

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University of Kalmar
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