Frozen in grime
According to the Bagmati Civilisation Collective Development Committee, 1,200 ropanis of
land on the banks of the Pashupatinath-Chovar stretch of Bagmati river has been usurped by
‘land mafias’. At the same time, the river has become a repository for Valley’s untreated sewage and garbage. Landless squatters too have made the banks their home. In light of all these activities, the volume of water has been reduced considerably. The condition of other rivers flowing through the capital is little better.
First and foremost, the land mafias should be uprooted from the banks, with force if need be. Unlike the squatters, these people are invariably well-heeled and their sole aim is to make a fast buck at a huge cost to the river ecosystem and the environment. The unholy liaison between mafia bigwigs and the wheeler dealers in municipal offices is largely to be blamed for the government’s failure on this front. The Committee estimates that the total cost of purifying water of Bagmati river will come to around Rs 2.5 billion in the next five years. This is a huge sum by any standard. Hence, in this phase of transition when the country is facing a severe funds crunch to cover its miscellaneous needs, the best way to go about things would be to crack the whip on stubborn occupiers of public land.