KATHMANDU, July 3: When people in Kathmandu Metropolitan City elected a new leadership in May last year they were very hopeful that life in the city would become easier, with toxic pollution brought under control and waste management properly tackled.
But under the leadership of Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya nothing is being done to meet these popular expectations. To make matters worse, KMC has resisted implementation of an Integrated Solid Waste Management Project under a public-private partnership model. It is instead spending millions every year to collect the waste and take it to the dumping sites, which observers say doesn’t make any sense.
According to a draft of the Project Development Agreement to be signed with NepWaste, a Nepal-Finland joint venture, the private sector will not only sweep all the streets and public places but also use the waste to produce fertilizer, as well as electricity.
Investment Board of Nepal (IBN), which has already completed negotiations with NepWaste for awarding the waste management project of KMC and nine other municipalities for 20 years, has been awaiting KMC’s nod for nearly four months.
Except KMC, all the municipalities in Kathmandu district have already agreed to the draft. KMC has not responded nor set forth its views clearly, said Uttam Bhakta Wagle, IBN’s spokesperson.
IBN had forwarded the PDA document on March 9 after finalizing the negotiations with NepWaste but there has not been any response yet, he said.
“We don’t know why it has not responded to the PDA draft,” said Wagle. IBN is awaiting KMC’s response before going ahead and signing the final PDA. The project, once it is started, will transform the traditional waste management system and render it efficient.
Experts who have direct knowledge of the proposed project say that KMC is dillydallying because it is not serious about handling the city’s waste even though the project will also fetch it some royalties. Instead, it is spending huge amounts simply collecting and dumping the waste. KMC is spending Rs 550 million for waste management in the current fiscal year and the proposed budget for this next fiscal year is Rs 540 million.
Former member of the National Planning Commission Sumitra Amatya, who had worked on the project in the initial days, said she finds no rationale behind spending such huge sums managing the waste when the whole amount could be saved by awarding the project to a private party.
Amatya also said the private party can at least reduce the current level of pollution in the city as well as manage even construction waste site. Amatya said that the amount can be spent on various other welfare programs instead.
Both Mayor Shakya and Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi were not available for comment. Other KMC officials did not specify any clear reasons except saying the PDA draft is under discussion.
Hari Kunwar, chief of the environment division at KMC, said the PDA draft was tabled at the municipal executive meeting but no decision has been taken.
“IBN has sent the PDA draft but its officials have not come to discuss the matter,” said Kunwar. He, however, did not specify what was lacking in the draft.
IBN had planned to replicate the same PDA under packages 2 and 3 with Clean Valley Company Pvt Ltd for managing waste in the urban areas of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts. But after failing to get any response from KMC, IBN has now started separate negotiations with the company selected for packages 2 and 3.
The project was initiated in 2011 but selection of the companies for the implementation drew much controversy and led to court cases. Months and years passed before IBN restarted the process three years ago.