A simple solution

The use of Valley rivers as disposal sites for untreated sewage and encroachment of riverbanks by squatters and unauthorised new buildings has ravaged the river environment of Kathmandu Valley. The solution, say the experts, is not big clean up projects but active involvement in conservation efforts of people living alongside the polluted rivers like Bagmati, Bishnumati and Tukucha. A two-day international symposium on “Community-led Management of River Environment” in Kathmandu emphasised as much. If every community living along riverbank prevents emptying of untreated sewage in the stretch of the river that falls in its area, such an unhealthy practice has to stop sooner or later.

Unless the true importance of these rivers is realised by the population at large, all efforts of the government, the NGOs and INGOs will come to a naught. As we have witnessed in the last decade or so, a top-down approach seldom works in conservation efforts. The initiative rather has to come from the grassroots level. Small community efforts have to merge into a bigger movement to get the desired changes. Likewise, people can work at the community level to prevent illegal construction on riverbeds. Or they can band together for a door-to-door awareness campaign against the hazards of river pollution. Hence, in order to bring about real change, Kathmandu residents will have to take the onus of cleaning up the polluted rivers themselves rather than only frown upon unsuccessful government efforts.