Clean Bagmati Campaign : Concerted effort paying off

- SAMIK KHAREL, Kathmandu

Apr 26, 2014-

After 50 weeks of rigorous campaign to clean the Bagmati river, with mass participation of general public, security personnel and employees of government and private organisations, Bagmati has undergone a visible transformation.

The dedication of everyone involved in the Clean Bagmati Campaign, those who volunteered to dirty their hands once every week to clean their local river system, has paid off well. The Bagmati today is free from pollutants, the water that flows in the river is much cleaner, so much so that one could bathe in the river section of Pashupatinath Temple area.

“The water that flows upto Pashupatinath area is safe for taking bath, and it has been scientifically proven,” said Kishore Thapa, secretary at the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD).

In the last 50 weeks, over 900 metric tonnes of wastes were removed from the Bagmati river and its banks, and the sewerage lines which were directly mixed into the river earlier are being managed.

From the government side, physical infrastructure like sewerage, road and retaining walls are being constructed. The works are expected to complete in next two years.

People from all walks of life are volunteering in the campaign, a sign that the change in Bagmati is for the people and by the people. To mark the 50th week of the campaign, President Ram Baran Yadav washed his face in Bagmati on Saturday. A few weeks back, chief secretary along with other government secretaries had bathed in the river.

MoUD Secretary Thapa thinks while many previous campaigns to clean Bagmati have failed, this one became successful largely due to the interest shown by the general public.

“This campaign has been a model of collective effort, the crucial element that made this change we are seeing today possible,” he said.

Thapa also refuted the claims made by some media that the campaign has cost the government billions. “Every week the government spends around Rs 25,000 in the campaign to buy masks, gloves, hire sound system and stage. In the last 50 weeks, we have spend around Rs 1.25 million in the campaign”  

Kathmandu Metropolitan City, another major stakeholder in the campaign, has said that the campaign has spread the message that river cleaning is an integral part of city cleaning and beautification.

“People should realise that it is up to them to maintain the river, and this feeling has to come from their hearts and minds,” said KMC Chief Laxman Aryal.

He added 90 percent of people have stopped disposing waste in the river and its banks after the campaign started. KMC has charged around 250 people for disposing wastes in the river and collected around Rs 600,000 in fines, so far.  

The Clean Bagmati Campaign will continue for another 50 weeks. In the next leg of the campaign, the plan is to clean Bagmati up to Jal Binnayak in Chobar. The campaign also plans on cleaning tributaries of the river, including Dhobikhola, Hanumantey, Nakkhu, Manohara and Godavari.

Published: 27-04-2014 08:37

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