Bagmati has been the drainage system to most of the households and industries in Kathmandu Valley. Household sewerage discharge coupled with effluent discharges from factories and solid waste disposal on the riverbanks has contributed in the pollution of the river.
Bagmati, the biggest river of the
The river has religious and spiritual value as the Hindus and the Buddhists consider its water pious. Gokarneshwar, Guheshwari and Pashupatinath temple are located in its bank. Among them the Pashupati area is enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites which reflects its importance to all the races of human civilization.
According to the studies, more than 93 non-government organizations have been working for cleaning the Bagmati and every year millions of rupees is being spent in the name of cleaning operation. These organizations focus on creating awareness among the public, but creating awareness without creating alternatives is ineffective. Awareness can lower the degradation rate without eradicating the root of the problem.
Nepal River Conservation Trust (NRCT) has been organising Bagmati River Festival every year since 2001. Cleaning Bagmati, tree plantation along the riverbank, and rafting et cetera has been conducted by NRCT to motivate people to work for improvement of Bagmati.
Pollution of Bagmati is not unknown to the government as well for a High Powered Committee for Implementation and Monitoring of the Bagmati Area Sewerage Construction/Rehabilitation Project (BASP) was established in 1995 A.D. This committee is supposed to keep Bagmati and its tributaries clean by preventing the direct discharge of solid and liquid wastes to the river and conserve the whole Bagmati river system within
Construction of sewage treatment plant in Guheswori and the sewer tunnel from Tamarganga to Tilganga to bypass the treated or untreated sewage directly to river at Tilganga are the major activities of the committee till today. Anil Bhadra Khanal, project manager of Bagmati Area Sewage Project, under this committee says, “Because of the political instability neither the budget has been allocated nor has any work been done since 2003 to this fiscal year. So, this committee couldn’t work as expected.” But he is hopeful the situation will improve as the government has increased the budget and this project has also got top priority status in the annual government programme. According to Khanal the government has allocated Rs 200 million for this committee for the fiscal year 2065/66.
The political parties vow to save Bagmati but whenever work on implementation of the plan begins they provoke their cadres to create hurdles. This happens whenever the government tries to remove the squatters from the banks of Bagmati.
Action plans are formed but their implementation is always under a cloud with so much pressure from the public. Joint efforts of the government authorities, integrated approach of the non-government organizations and a strong political will power to act, not mere words, is what is needed to make the dream of clean Bagmati come true.
Qinhuai, a highly polluted
The talk about how Bagmati is being polluted never dies out. Everyone — be it public or organizations concerned never get exhausted talking about this topic. Various organisations working for Bagmati keep coming up with bundles of report and events in aid of the river. Even ministers and political leaders are seen cleaning the Bagmati in various programmes. But still the condition of Bagmati river deteriorating everyday. So the possible way out for revival of Bagmati, can be protection and conservation of Bagmati together with all the development activities.