KATHMANDU, May 16: The one most peculiar aspect that defines Kathmanduites is their habit of littering everywhere regardless of their education or status in society. Littering on the streets, parks, gardens and public places is a prime characteristic common to all of them.
The discussion on prohibiting haphazard waste disposal in Kathmandu is ages old and although the measures taken in the past may not have yielded results, there are more and more people realizing the adverse impact littering has on our environment. Are we making efforts to address this problem? Not much. It’s high time for us to find solutions that would prove truly effective.
When asked what she would do if she found a chocolate wrapper thrown on the street, Rakshya Shahi, an undergraduate student at School of Environmental Science and Management (SchEMS), says, "I would definitely carry it in my bag or pocket and throw it in a dustbin when I find one," adding, " Honestly speaking, before pursuing environmental science, even though I tried not to litter, there were moments when I just gave in. But now, I am aware and do not litter in public places."
School children are being taught that littering is detrimental to our environment but this is only effective when the teachers and parents implement it.
According to Rabin Man Shrestha, the Deputy Chief of the Environment Management Department (EMD) of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), KMC is trying to systematically take care of the trash but they are still facing many problems. “We arranged for approximately 1,000-1,500 mobile garbage bins at various places throughout the city since 2011 but we also had to remove many of them as the local people started throwing the household trash in the bins that were made for street litter”, adds Shrestha.
But the authorities and people have been taking certain measures that provide hope for a cleaner and greener Kathmandu. KMC has launched a new campaign to discourage people from throwing garbage in the streets by slapping them a fine of Rs 200. With the help of police officials, KMC has recently fined 45 people in the month of April alone. Talking more about the campaign, Shrestha says, “This campaign is doing really well. Even today we have fined people for littering.”
Another alternative to getting rid of household waste is the use of compost bins being sold by KMC. A lot of people have purchased these bins. According to KMC, they have sold around 1,500 compost bins.
Saraswati KC, who is leading a retired life, wants to buy this bin. She wants to utilize everyday garbage in order to grow crops and for gardening.
She explains, “This is a really convenient and profitable deal for homes as well as the whole city as KMC will have less garbage to take care of and we wouldn’t have to pay Rs 3200 every year for waste disposal. And also it can be used as fertilizer for gardening and growing crops.” She opines that the bins are a bit on the expensive side as it costs around Rs 1500 per bin and that they are not available in the wards easily, but it still is a good alternative.
The youth of Kathmandu can certainly learn from KC and people like Shahi about what an individual can do to bring about change that affects thousands.