Even before you see it, you smell it.
Just off Kathmandu Valley’s western rim, over a ridge and down the mountain, visitors are alerted to the landfill site by the pungent stink.
Trucks loaded with garbage ply the narrow dirt road and bulldozers stand by on the roadside to clear the frequent landslides.
The sludge from the landfill enters directly into the nearby Kolpu River as swarms of flies, eagles and vultures fly above the wasteland. There a stark contrast between this mountain of trash and the lush, tranquil forests and green terraced fields surrounding it.
For residents of Sisdole and surrounding villages, the smell has been a constant companion for nearly two decades. And with the new landfill site in Banchare Danda just 2km away, they worry their health and livelihood will continue to suffer because of what Kathmandu throws away.
“This place is now unlivable, we sometimes wish that it would stop smelling for a few hours so that we could catch a break,” says Krishna Ghimire, a local farmer who also runs a shop nearby.
But it is not just the sight and the smell that the residents are concerned about. Many in the villages are falling sick with rashes, skin allergies and even cholera.
“When we pass the landfill, we get rashes and allergies. A few months ago, I got a cut while on the road next to the dump and it took three months to heal. It was just a small cut,” says Krishna.
At a nearby health post which serves as the sole medical centre for residents, staff member Jyoti Maya BK sees 25 patients daily, more during the monsoon.
“The waste just leaches out and flows directly into the river. Farmers who tend their fields have chronic skin allergies, asthma and sometimes even cholera,” says BK. “The health post is flooded with such cases during the monsoon. It becomes difficult for us to work as we are understaffed, and we don’t have a doctor here either.”
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