As Bagmati River clean-up drive marks 401st week, more garbage found on the river banks

A study carried out by the High-powered Committee for Integrated Development of the Bagmati Civilization found that there were a total of 137 households two years ago in Thapathali area.

However, the Bagmati clean-up mega campaign found an increase of 12 houses, now totaling 149 while conducting the riverbank clean-up and inspection of squatters’ settlement, member of the Board of Directors Dr Mala Kharel said.

More temporary structures have been built on the riverbank due to poor management of squatters’ settlements.

The volume of garbage has started increasing with the rise in number of squatters on the Bagmati River banks in Thapathali, the Rastriya Samachar Samiti reported.

During the clean-up campaign along with the inspection and study of the squatters’ settlement, the quantity of garbage was also found to have increased of late.

The inspection/study team collected garbage from the Bagmati River near Shankhamul area and took part in sanitation activities. Similarly, the cleaning of the Bagmati River in Guheshwori area reached its 401st week on Saturday.

The campaigners buried decomposable garbage whereas non-decomposable waste would be used to make bricks by keeping it in bottles, a campaigner said.

The campaign of cleaning the Bagmati River was launched on May 19, 2013 and has spurred similar clean-up drives in other tributaries of the river.

Similarly, the Manohara clean-up and heritage protection citizen campaign reached its 230th week on Saturday. The campaign managed waste materials from Koteshwor area to Jadibuti Chowk.

Campaigners said that Rudramati, Bishnumati, Godavari and north and west sections of the ring road areas were being cleaned in recent weeks in Kathmandu valley.

Despite relentless efforts to clean the river, factories, industries and homesteads still dump their waste into the Bagmati River and treat it an open sewer.

Heavy industrial activity, haphazard urbanization, rampant sand extraction, increasing solid-waste dumping, lack of public awareness, gross government negligence and weak policies are responsible for destroying the River.

According to a 2015 report by the Nepal River Conservation Trust, a non-profit organisation established by a group of river conservationists, Bagmati’s water is unsuitable for drinking and irrigation, it does not meet the requirements for aquatic life, and it exceeds the maximum permissible levels for effluent discharge.

Nepal’s water guidelines state that water for drinking, irrigation and recreation should be at a pH level between 6.5 and 8.5, but on many stretches of the river, the pH exceeds 9, according to the Bagmati Expedition Report. The water also contains high concentrations of ammonia, nitrate, total dissolved solids, phosphate, iron, arsenic, and mercury, making it uninhabitable and ecologically dead.