Polluted Bagmati

Come the Environment Day and it is an occasion for the environmental activists to harp, on a right note, on the importance of conserving the environment. It is also a day when the cause of conservation is brought to the fore, at least once in a year. This time around the Bagmati river got a kind of care after 100-odd environmentalists and students together cleansed its banks around the Pashupati area. The significance of the World Environment Day is no doubt great. It is meant to promote the cause of preserving one’s natural heritage at the global

scale through local participation. While dates like these, set aside to commemorate events, ideas and objectives, contribute considerably degree to the values ascribed to occasions, it would, however, be foolhardy to believe that one day in the life this planet is sufficient to raise awareness about the degrading natural resources worldwide. Yet still such days play an important role in impregnating the minds of men about the need for serious conservation work and even go on to inspire a few more to work for this worthy cause. The organisers of the Bagmati programme might as well have had this idea in minds when they urged the students to find out for themselves that the holy river was flowing on a perilous course and imminently threatened with extinction.

The Bagmati, polluted and pungent, is now reduced to only a relic that once was the source of drinking and irrigation water for the majority of the Valley residents. Lately, many a people have won laurels trying to restore its precinct qualities. Sadly though they are yet to fully succeed due to utter neglect and exploitation of this system. By today’s standards, Bagmati water is among the most unfit to drink. Similarly, some 30 species of endangered birds listed on the Red Data List of threatened species are from Nepal. Marshes and wetlands are fast drying up. Forests are still being cleared at an alarming rate. Poaching of animals in the buffer zones and sometimes even in the national parks is a familiar sight. For example, two species of vultures are now on the verge of extinction. All these is happening even as environmentalists, authorities and conservation agencies are supposedly trying their best to protect the natural resources. There is a greater need than ever before to devise a strategy geared solely to effective conservation of the nation’s natural heritage. Bagmati, among others, needs to be given a new lease of life. A long-term plan instead of sporadic restoration and cleaning efforts that seldom yield results is what should be given the priority attention, though this is easier said than realised. Postponement of the problem will be fatal.