June 13, 2024, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Bagmati Cleaning Mega Campaign completes 11 years of action

The Nepal Weekly
May 21, 2024

The Bagmati Cleaning Mega Campaign, which started with the slogan of ‘Volunteering two hours a week for the nation’, has completed its 11th year.

On the 5th of May 2070, the clean-up campaign was started with an objective to make the holy river Bagmati, the source of civilization of the Kathmandu Valley clear and suitable for bathing, if not potable.

In the first phase, the target was to clean the river up to Pashupati area.

On the occasion of the 50th week cleaning campaign, then President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav and other prominent personalities washed their faces at Gaurighat using the Bagmati water.

The campaign was led by the then chief secretary of Nepal Government Leela Mani Paudel. Since then, every week on Saturday morning from 7:00 to 9:00 in summer and from 7:30 to 9:30 in winter, the banks of Bagmati River are cleaned. By this time, the campaign is entering its 575th week from coming Saturday.

It is informed that more than 20 thousand metric tons of waste has been cleared from the Bagmati river so far. In the campaign, over 1.5 million people contributed their time and efforts to collect garbage in the river and its sides. Nepali Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police and other government and community organizations have also contributed to the campaign.

As influenced by the campaign, clean-up campaigns are organised in various places of the tributaries of the Bagmati, including the Bishnumati, in the valley. At present, 25 places in the are being cleaned, including cultural heritage such as Bagmati above Guhyeshwari, Tilganga, Aloknagar, Maitidevi, Rudramati, Sundarighat, upper and lower parts of Bishnumati, Manohara, Karmanasa in Lalitpurand Hanumante in Bhaktapur.

Campaigners demand that the local government should support the campaign for success. Influenced by the Bagmati clean-up campaign, the clean-up campaign running all over the country is supporting the work of the local government, but it is being commented that it is not as effective as it should be because the local government does not pay attention to it.

It is said that Mega Campaign is going to conduct an exclusive even to celebrate its entry to the 12th year of action.

However, complaints are widely heard that although the Government, a number of institutions, and individuals have supported the campaign, it has not achieved as per objective. The native valley people who are above 55 by age had witnessed the Bagmati, Bishnumati, and other rivers in the valley flowing clear water with Asala fishes are not convinced with the black water flowing in the rivers even today.

Bagmati, which is the biggest river of the Kathmandu Valley, originates from Shivapuri hill, 25 km north of Kathmandu City at an altitude of 2650m above sea level. Major tributaries: Bishnumati, Dhobikhola, Manohara, Tukucha and Nakhhu join it along the course of it’s meandering through the valley. The famous temple of Pashupatinath a number of holy shrines are located at the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Gokarneshwor, Shankamul, Kalmochan, Teku Dobhan are some of them. The Bishnumati river side has such holy places alike.

Since around 4 decades, Bagmati and other rivers are facing a number of serious environmental and ecological challenges. The purity and freshness of the river water is now lost. The water quality and river integrity have changed in the recent years solely due to anthropogenic activities. People have directed their sewers directly to the river, not only the household wastes but wastes of hazardous nature from nursing homes and private medical institutions without even the primary treatment. Due to the increasing population, direct disposal of untreated sewerage into the river, uncontrolled sand mining, improper solid waste disposal, rapid construction of industries, uncontrolled squatters’ settlement etc are helping to deteriorate the water quality of Bagmati River.     

Late Tulsi Ram Baidya who died in December 2013 at 93, in his time, had raised the issue of Cleaning Bagmati in a lot of places and occasions. Stressing need of preservation of Bagmati civilization. He put the issues with authorities concerned, academia and media as well. Likewise, late Sanu Bhai Manandhar put his solo effort in cleaning Bagmati at Teku Dobhan and surroundings for long time knowingly that the one man adventure could not bring any significant result.