To begin with, Biratnagar Metropolitan City (BMC) is an important commercial and industrial hub of Nepal. BMC’s proximity to the Indian border has established the city as a hub for cross-border trading. Indeed, the rich history of industrialization includes the establishment of Biratnagar Jute Mills in 1930s and Raghupati Jute Mills in 1940s. Because of this, the city has been established as the front runner in the industrial sector in the country.
According to a report , the population of BMC was 204,949 in 2017. This figure is entirely based on the census of 2011 with the population of former VDCs that are now a part of BMC also considered. However, BMC due to its urban center status, has a significant floating population and daily commuters who travel to the city from adjacent towns for work and education.
Amount and composition of collected waste
The total amount of waste collected in BMC is 66 tons per day. This includes the waste collected from households and institutional sources. The per capita waste collection is calculated at 307 grams/capita/day. This is relatively higher rate compared to other cities in Province 1, say Dharan where 254 grams of waste is collected per capita per day. This difference is largely caused due to the floating population in BMC and higher commercial activities occurring in the city.
The above pie-chart elucidates that 71% of waste collected in BMC is organic waste. This is a trait that is observed in many cities of developing nations where the amount of organic waste in the waste stream is significantly higher than other waste types. This also correlates in a certain way to high built-up area resulting in less kitchen garden area.
Furthermore, the next major share in the waste stream is occupied by plastic and paper at 17% and glass at 3%. In total, 13.2 tons of plastic, paper and glass wastes are generated. As a matter of fact this is almost equal to the total waste generated in Dhankuta municipality (DMUN).
Waste management site
BMC, despite its metropolitan city status still employs poor and environmentally-degrading practice of open dumping the waste. For instance, waste is dumped on the banks of Keshaliya river, about 300 meters north of Keshaliya Bridge on the Keshaliya Marga situated in Ward No 6 of BMC.
Having a closer look, the dumping site is roughly 0.01 sq. km. or 1.5 bigha in area. The site is nearly 340 meters away from the nearest human settlement as calculated from satellite imagery. It is located in primarily agricultural area with large farmlands lying adjacent to the site.
Due to the limited space for dumping, the waste in the landfill is often burnt to reduce the volume and make room for dumping of more waste. Open dumping in itself is a bad practice. When this is added to appalling practice of open burning fumes, a carcinogenic cocktail turns out. This is harmful to humans as well as to the environment. As vast swathe of farm land surrounds the site, there is a likely chance of soil on the farm land being contaminated by heavy metal and other undesirable chemicals.
The waste management model implemented in BMC is public private partnership (PPP) model whereby the responsibility for collection and management of waste is handed to a private company, Waste Management Group Nepal Pvt. Ltd. and J.V. as per the contract with BMC.
A total of 217 employees, 30 drivers and remaining sweepers and loaders are employed for waste management purpose. The number of sanitary employees is almost three times and more than twelve times the manpower employed in Dharan Sub-metropolitan City (DSMC) and DMUN respectively.
Likewise, for the collection and transportation purpose, a total of 51 vehicles are used of which 31 are tractors and 20 are wheel carts. Meanwhile, the wheel carts serve as temporary transfer stations with the waste collected in wheel carts loaded on to tractors for final disposal.
Financial aspects of solid waste
As PPP model is implemented in BMC, general public pay the sanitary service charges directly to the waste management company while BMC also allocates budget to the company. In FY 2075/76 BMC allocated budget of Rs 13.68 million which is about 0.46% of the total budget of Rs 2.95 billion.
The service charges paid by households (HHs) for sanitary services are tabulated below:
|S.N.||Particulars||Service Frequency||Monthly Charge in Rs|
|1||Normal Service||Twice every week||200|
|3||HHs with low income||Twice every week||100|
The sanitary service charges for institutions such as health institutions, shops, hotels, lodges, offices, industries and academic institutions vary according to the frequency of service provided and the amount of waste to be handled. The services charges for institutions are generally higher than that of household service charges.
The way forward
As mentioned earlier, BMC practices open dumping of waste on the banks of Keshaliya river. Above all, this reality demands an urgent need to abolish such unsanitary practice to mitigate the impacts on environment. The best way would be to focus on reuse and recycling of waste. For that source separation and separate collection and transportation of waste must be promoted.
As 71% or nearly 47 tons of waste is organic, emission of methane is likely to occur when dumped openly. Rather, the organic waste could be converted to biofuel or biogas. As a matter of fact, many areas in and around BMC is agricultural land, the organic waste could be composted into biofertilizers. A detailed study about composition of organic fraction in waste stream and its calorific value needs to be carried out.
Meanwhile, the composition of paper, plastic and glass is about 20% or 13.2 tons. Paper, plastic and glass are highly recyclable materials. Diverting these materials along with organic fractions away from waste stream would reduce the pressure on the landfill. In addition, there is also an economic opportunity of recycling waste as it means more income for the waste management company, while tax on the recycled materials could generate extra income for BMC as well.
To clarify, the content is based on the final year project titled “Comparative Study of MSWM Practices in Local Bodies of Province Number 1, Nepal” by Abinash Chand, Bipin Poudel, Rupesh Adhikari and Shasank Pokharel; supervised by Asst. Prof. Sagar Kafle; approved by Department of Agricultural Engineering, Purwanchal Campus in December, 2019. To be more precise, data collection for the project was carried out between May to August, 2019 and therefore may not accurately represent the current status.
The author could be reached through shasank(at)tutanota.com.
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