Fecal Sludge of 4.4 million People of Kathmandu Directly Disposed into the River

Impossible to achieve safely managed sanitation targets: Joint Secretary Er. Khatri

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Kathmandu: The fecal sludge of 4.4 million people of Kathmandu is being discharged directly into the rivers and streams.Despite legal provisions to dispose fecal sludge and septage only after the treatment, it is being directly discharged into the river due to lack oftreatment systems.

“It is estimated that 5 million people are living in Kathmandu Valley. Out of this, only 3 percent of the population’s sewage is being treated and discharged into the river, while only 9 percent of the human excreta is contained in septic tanks. The remaining 88 percent, which is the excreta of 4.4 million population, is being discharged directly into the river,” said Dr. Sanjeev Bickram Rana, Executive Director of Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board (KVWSMB).

During the TV program “Talk of the Town” broadcasted on Image Television every Saturday at 8:30 pm, Dr. Rana said that besides Guheshwori Wastewater Treatment Plant and Lubhu Fecal Sludge Treatment Plant, there are no other treatment systems, and this has ultimately resulted to polluting the rivers and streams. Dr. Rana added: “Until additional treatment plants are constructed and put into operation in Kathmandu Valley, the existing reality is the collection of fecal sludge by tankers and the discharge of the sewage into the river.”

Impossible to attain 50 percent in seven years: Joint Secretary Er. Khatri

“89 percent of the country’s population relies on on-site sanitation system while only 11 percent consists of sewered sanitation system,” Joint Secretary of Ministry of Water Supply Er. Tiresh Prasad Khatri said. He added, “Only 3 percent of the wastewater connected to sewered network is being treated. To meet the Sustainable Development Goal, by the year 2030, it is to be increased from 3 to 50 percent, which is challenging.

This seems to be quite impossible to achieve in seven and a half years.” He further said that mentioning fecal sludge management in the existing WASH Act and the provisions of licensing of tanker operators for fecal sludge management in the proposed WASH Regulation show that the policy reforms are being made.

Fecal sludge treatment plants at wastewater treatment plant sites

 Dr. Sanjeev Bikram Rana informed that fecal sludge treatment plants are being constructed at the wastewater treatment plant sites in Dhobighat and Kodku, which are under construction. “The existing problems would be resolved after the construction of these fecal sludge treatment plants,” he claimed. “However, it is not sure when that would be completed. We are in the process of hiring new contractors,” Dr. Rana said.

According to him, the treatment plants have been designed with the capacity of treating 150,000 liters of fecal waste, projecting the population until 2025. 75 thousand liters of fecal sludge can be treated from one treatment plant operating for 8 hours per day. If operated for 16 hours per day, a single treatment plant can treat 150,000 liters of fecal sludge per day, which will resolve the existing problem of lack of disposal space.

“Why didn’t the Kathmandu Valley Board think about this before?” journalist Jagdish Kharel asked. “While building treatment plants for sewered system, we have now also included treatment plants for non-sewered system. However, the Guheswori Treatment Plant, which is now under operation, does not possess this,” Dr. Rana clarified. Joint Secretary Er. Tiresh Khatri added that constructing few infrastructures, fecal sludge can also be treated at existing Guheswori Treatment Plant. “Fecal sludge and waste-water do not have the same characteristics. Due to this, fecal sludge should be pre-treated before allowing it to enter the wastewater treatment plant. Discussions are being held for that as well,”said Er. Khatri.

Cease of septic tank cleaning business

On 19 June 2023, Lalitpur Metropolitan City fined two private tankers Rs. 50,000 each for the offense of disposing of the collected fecal sludge into the Manohara River. The Metropolitan City said that the action has been taken according to the Municipal Waste Management Act 2075.

Septic tank cleaning professionals have been discouraged by the Municipality’s act on not designating the disposal site to manage fecal sludge and penalizing them. “I am the person who has been fined by Bagmati Civilization Integrated Development Committee. Should we be only punished or show us the proper disposal site? That’s why I have ceased my business now. If arrested, I would again need to pay the fine of Rs. 100,000,” Pradeep Dhungana from ShahariSarsafai Pvt. Ltd. said during the program ‘Talk of the Town’.

He further complained that due to lack of disposal space and the business not being legalized, they could also not use the proper equipment developed and designed for fecal sludge desludging and transporting purposes.

 

Board preparing to issue the license: Executive Director Dr. Rana

Executive Director Sanjeev Bikram Rana said that the Kathmandu Valley Water Supply Management Board is preparing to address both the problems of disposal site and getting the business license by private operators. “We are building treatment plants for treating fecal sludge. We are also in the process of taking the rights of the license.

Upon completion of all the process, about three months would be required to issue the license,” said Dr. Rana. Joint Secretary Er. Tiresh Khatri added that it is impossible to achieve the sanitation targets without involvement and partnership with the private sectors. He also informed that the proposed WASH Regulation includes about providing license to septic tank cleaning private operators and the existing problems would be resolved with its effective implementation.

 

A preliminary study shows that about 60 private operators are involved in septic tank cleaning business. Since this business could not be legalized, the private operators have not been able to organize yet.


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