Fairest of them all

  • How Bhaktapur became one of Nepal’s tidiest towns
Fairest of them all

Jul 31, 2014-

Three young girls in their college uniforms wander inside the premises of Bhaktapur Durbar Square on a recent afternoon. It’s a bright sunny day, and the three companions are sharing a bottle of soft drink. One of the girls takes the last gulp of the beverage, and she casually toss away the empty plastic bottle. The trio walks away, engrossed in conversation.

Meanwhile, a middle-aged man watches them from afar. Now he slowly walks towards the empty bottle, picks it up, and drops it in a bin he is carrying. Meet Kancha Gora, a 45-year-old employee at Bhaktapur Municipality. For the last 13 years, Gora has been picking the wastes discarded by the people visiting the Bhaktapur Durbar Square.  In fact, there are four persons like Gora deployed by the municipality to make sure the historical palace compound remains spick and span.

Going to the Bhaktapur Durbar Square area, it’s hard to see any filth littering the streets--an unavoidable sight in other parts of Kathmandu valley. In fact, among the three cites in the valley-- Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Kritipur-- Bhaktapur is considered the cleanest. Because of its preservation efforts of this cultural city, Unesco honoured it with the Honorable Mention for the Asia-Pacific region in (1998-1999).

Motivated to make the area one of the cleanest in the valley, Ram Mani Bhattarai, executive officer of Bhaktapur Municipality, says he is doing his best. “Since the place is culturally and architecturally rich, we are doing our best to keep it clean,” says Bhattarai. The Municipality has allocated roughly 55 million for sanitation for this fiscal year. In the previous fiscal year, the Municipality had spent around Rs 50 million on sanitation. At present, the municipality employs 161 workers for sanitation in all 17 wards of which 57 are being deployed in a contract basis.

This year, Bhaktapur Municipality was declared the third cleanest among 130 municipalities by the Ministry of Urban Development on the World Environment Day. Hetuda and Dharan municipalities took the first and second position.

To keep the spirit of this living heritage alive and clean, especially with regards to the Bhaktapur Durbar Square and the Taumadhi Square areas, the municipality sends sanitation workers in three different shifts, according to Dilip Kumar Suweal, the city-inspector of the municipality.

The municipality also deploys two ward-inspectors, whose work is to keep a watch over the sweepers and garbage collectors in all the wards. The morning shift starts at six and last until eleven, and the day shift lasts from one to five. The municipality has been deploying 57 sanitation workers on a contractual basis, while there are over 100 workers who walk around with bins.  

“It is the locals who throw the garbage around, tourists don’t litter much. But people are becoming more aware now, a lot of them use dustbins,” says Gora.

According to Suweal the municipality gathers 26 tonnes of garbage everyday, but lacks a permanent dumping site. While the municipality is already working on separating the garbage into degradable and non-degradable, this is only limited to ward no 13 and the municipality plans to extend this to all the 17 wards soon.

Published: 01-08-2014 09:36

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