Well begun, half done
- Bagmati clean-up now requires the treatment of sewage and drainage
Apr 12, 2015-
The Bagmati river, cradle of the Kathmandu Valley civilisation, bursts forth at Bagdwar in the Shivapuri hills, a clear, crisp torrent. Once, as it snaked its way through the Valley, collecting all manner of sewage, trash, and debris, the river would turn into a sluggish, brackish-brown river of filth that was not much better than a sewer. Things, however, have changed for the better. The river, though not completely revitalised, is noticeably cleaner, its flow more energetic and the summer stench not so bad. This slow transformation has largely been thanks to the Clean Bagmati Campaign, the brainchild of Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudyal. On Saturday, marking the 100th week of the campaign, over a 100,000 people lined the 56 kilometre shore of the Bagmati, from Sundarijal to Chobhar, dipping their white glove-clad hands into the river’s muck and pulling out everything that didn’t belong in the waters. These people included Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, CPN-UML Chairman KP Oli and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, along with other politicians, bureaucrats, security agencies, I/NGO personnel, civil society professionals, and thousands of ordinary citizens.
Among the myriad plans that have sought to clean up the Bagmati, the Chief Secretary-led Clean Bagmati Campaign has been the most effective so far. Saturday’s human chain removed 96 metric tonnes of solid waste from the river, in addition to the 3,000 metric tonnes that the campaign has removed so far since it began on May 18, 2013. The river is being renewed, one only has to take a walk along the Sundarijal-Guheshwori stretch to notice the difference. Even at Thapathali, the heart of the city, the river appears cleaner and clearer. According to officials, 90 percent of solid waste has been removed from the river. This campaign has been such a success because of the tireless leadership of Paudyal, who has been a visible presence at the weekly Saturday clean-up campaigns since the very beginning. The campaign has also made a point to include people from all walks of life, encouraging civil society and government organs to take part. Indeed, this paper too joined the campaign in February last year.
However, the quest to transform the Bagmati into the pristine river it once was has only just begun. Solid waste removal is the easiest part of the solution. Now will come the much harder part—treating the river’s waters to remove sewage and the associated chemical and biological hazards. Factories and industries continue to dump their toxic payloads of chemical waste into the Bagmati and its tributaries. These, along with the household drains that still empty into the river, will need to stopped up and redirected. The few existing wastewater treatment plants will need to be restarted and made operational. Many more such treatment plans will need to be established along the run of the river. The Clean Bagmati Campaign has been a laudable initiative; it must keep the momentum going.
Published: 13-04-2015 10:26