Nepal | September 30, 2020

Bagmati clean-up campaign losing steam

Pramod Kumar Tandan
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Volunteers participating in the Bagmati clean-up campaign, in Kathmandu, on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Photo: THT

Volunteers participating in the Bagmati clean-up campaign, in Kathmandu, on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Photo: THT

Kathmandu, May 7

Bagmati Clean-up Mega Campaign seems to be losing steam with fewer people turning up to participate in the cleanup drive.

Until the 50th week of the campaign, up to 10,000 people turned up every Saturday to clean the river. But except regular volunteers, general public’s participation has been quite depressing in recent days. “If we motivate and invite organisations, they come to join the campaign. Otherwise, only the initiators have been attending the campaign on Saturdays,” said Madan Pokhrel, one of the regular participants. The campaign was launched on May 19, 2013.

He said around 50 people accompany the initiators and regular cleaners, who reach the riverbank every Saturday and pick garbage. Though the campaign is continuing, it seems to have failed to mobilise the general public.

In the initial phase, the campaign attracted people from all walks of life and the credit for this goes to then chief secretary Leela Mani Paudyal, high-level government officials, political leaders and celebrities.

According to Dr Raju Adhikari, one of the initiators, the situation now is not like before. “High-level bureaucrats and political leaders are no longer interested in the campaign. The campaign has not been attract participation of more volunteers,” he informed.

He said the campaign completed its 156th week today. Volunteers have collected and disposed of more than 5,200 metric tons garbage from the river so far.

“The government should have stepped in manage sewage flowing into the river. We are in need of adequate support from the government to restore past glory of the holy river,” he said.

Though there is no legal existence of this campaign, the Office of Kathmandu Metropolitan City has been supporting it from the beginning. The KMC has 20 paid cleaners. Gyanendra Karki, KMC spokesperson, admitted that the campaign had failed to retain its initial zeal.

“Participation of volunteers once a week alone is not enough to clean the river. It is the paid cleaners who clean the river regularly,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, former chief secretary and one of the initiators of the campaign Paudyal claimed that the campaign had succeeded in achieving its all objectives. “The campaign is not for publicity. We launched the campaign to raise awareness. We are successful in that front,” he told The Himalayan Times, “We have been able to expand it beyond the Kathmandu Valley and other rivers as well.”


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