Campaigners vow to restore lost glory of Bagmati River

Posted on: Monday, January 20, 2014

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Hundreds of activists involved in the Bagmati Cleanup Mega Campaign have vowed to make the sacred river worth taking a holy dip within the Nepali New Year (April 14, 2014).

The campaigners from over 30 government and non-government organisations, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a renowned spiritual teacher, and hundreds of volunteers thronged to the banks of the river coinciding with the 36th week of the mega campaign today and made a pledge to restore its lost glory.

The Art of Living Foundation, a volunteer-based humanitarian organisation of Ravi Shankar, is also involved in this campaign.

In the first phase, the 21-km stretch of the river from Sundarijal to Sankhamul will be cleaned.The Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force have also expressed their support for the campaign.

The slogan of the mega campaign is: ‘If not we, who? If not now, when?’.

Admiring the enthusiasm of activists to revive the glory of the Bagmati, spiritual teacher Ravi Shankar said he saw cleaner and faster currents in the river compared to previous years.

“When I was in Kathmandu in 2011, I had expressed my concern about garbage in the sacred river and encouraged stakeholders to maintain the sanctity of the river. I would like to congratulate you all for being able to achieve success towards this within a short period of time. I hope you will stand united and make the water not only fit for bathing, but drinkable as well,” he said.

Ravi Shankar also remarked that the destiny of Nepal was associated with the cleanliness of the Bagmati.

Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudyal said over 300 tonnes of solid garbage were removed from the Bagmati River during the period.

“The river is our mother and is the source of ancient glory of Nepali civilisation. We will not remain mute spectators when it is turning into a filthy drainage,” he said.

A group of 50 volunteers has been working all day to clean up the heavily polluted river.

The Bagmati, comprising 57 rivers and rivulets as its tributaries, originates from Baghdwar and bifurcates the Kathmandu Valley and crosses the valley at Chobhar.

Many shrines and cemeteries such as Gokarneshwar, Guheshwari and Pashupatinath temples, which are World Heritage Sites, are located on its river banks.

The Hindus consider Bagmati waters as Jal (sacred water). Increasing degradation of the Bagmati Basin has been evident in recent years due to rapid urbanisation and population growth.

Uncontrolled disposal of untreated wastewater (domestic, industrial, solid waste leachate and agricultural runoff) in the rivers has far surpassed the assimilative capacity of the river, according to a study.

Various studies have reported that water of the Bagmati River is of very poor quality, both chemically and bacteriologically, and unsuitable for any freshwater fauna and flora for most of the dry season.

The water quality, in the rainy season, however, improves considerably due to the increase in the assimilative capacity of the river.

A study conducted in 1994 had claimed that the water of Bagmati River within the Kathmandu Valley is not fit for drinking, recreation and irrigation purposes. The polluted water has also affected the aquatic ecology and biodiversity in the river. Freshwater fish have been completely wiped out from the river.

Source: Nepal News

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