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River Pollution in the Kathmandu Valley
Urban mismanagement robs locals of a valuable natural resource
Bishnu K.C. (bishnuji)     Print Article 
Published 2006-09-09 13:22 (KST)   
For the people of the Kathmandu valley clean river water is just a memory. Today the rivers can only be said to be clean at their source and river pollution has become a major problem in the valley.

Due to modernization, the building of concrete houses has started. People are taking sand from the rivers, causing them to become deeper. The land surface then slopes down, and waste products flow into the rivers. Thus began the pollution of the rivers says Hutha Ram Baidhya, an environmentalist.

People taking sand from the Bagmati river.
©2006 Bishnu K.C.

The major rivers of the valley, Bagmati, Bishnumati, and Tukucha are no longer the important natural resources that they once were. This is because of the mis-management of the drainage system of houses and local industries at a time of increasing urbanization. Even the outlets of hospitals flow directly into the rivers.

Dead animals thrown in the Bishnumati river.
©2006 Bishnu K.C.

For an example we can take the Bagmati river, which is famous all over the country as well as in India for its holiness. This river now has turned into a sanitation tunnel. In the Bouddha area alone we can see nearly 80 big and small drainage tunnels linked to the river. Experts say that 10 years ago there were about 140 drainage tunnels around the Sankhamul area, this must have doubled now.

Experts say that the rivers have lost a significant number of living creatures because the substances they need for their survival have been overcome by huge amounts of ammonia, chloride, phosphate, sodium, suspended solids, and human excreta.

Environmental chemist K.B. Shahi told me that the processes set in action by the polluting waste deplete the oxygen in the water needed for the existence of river plants and healthy micro-organisms. During the dry season there is almost no oxygen at all in the rivers. Underground water is also affected because of the acidic nature of waste products.

Environmentalist Hutha Ram Biadhya, who is also known as the father of Bagmati, highlighted how quickly the river's condition has deteriorated when he said:

"During 1990's earthquake when there was a lack of drinking water, people, including me, used to drink water from this Bagmati river." He added that the quality of water in the river during that period was higher than it is today.

Vegetable markets on the banks of the Tukucha contribute to river pollution.
©2006 Bishnu K.C.

We humans are completely responsible for the rivers' pollution. The Kathmandu valley is a central attraction for Nepalese as well as foreign travelers. The rise in river pollution has increased the bad will of the country.

Experts say that the best way to stop river pollution is by managing the physical infrastructure and stopping population pressure in the valley.

The development of proper education, employment and facilities should not be limited to the Kathmandu valley. Development in outer areas will reduce the incentive to live in the valley.

Science and technology should be given priority and everyone should be made aware of the dangers of pollution. Individuals as well as the government should work together to solve this issue and waste must be treated before it is thrown in the rivers.

Sewage mixed with river water.
©2006 Bishnu K.C.
Nepali action to save the Bagmati:
Friends of the Bagmati
Nepal River Conservation Trust
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bishnu K.C.

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