Rivers under threat

There are around 6,000 rivers and streams in Nepal with three major river basins (Saptakoshi, Narayani and Karnali). An example of the technological and/or sociological failure was the breach of the earthen embankment by the Koshi river on August 18, 2008. The event caused flooding and breaching of four kilometres of road along the East-West Highway, paralysing the national road transportation system for 172 days. It caused a loss of around Rs 3,000 million and affected over 53,000 people of Sunsari district.

Rivers while are an integral part of daily life of people, they can sometimes become a barrier to national development, mainly during monsoon.

In the present context, human activities have heavily polluted rivers like Bagmati and Bishnumati among other rivers in Nepal.  A campaign launched to clean the Bagmati river is an initiative which also aims to raise awareness about the importance of our rivers.

All river streams should be a top priority in urban planning so that our rivers can be saved and kept clean.

Governments at all levels, local communities and the private sector should be involved during the planning and implementation phases so as to save rivers and keep them clean.

The practice of cremating bodies on the riverbanks has been going on for centuries. It is also related to religious beliefs. But the practice does have some consequences, as it not only pollutes the river but also the air. May be it is time to think about some alternatives. Electric cremation can be one of the ways. It can help save forests and rivers.

Rivers and environment can be kept clean by planting trees up to 500m from any road or building along the riverbanks including Bagmati and Bishnumati, as haphazard encroachment and road construction on these banks are putting pressure on the water bodies.

Many developed nations have introduced Corrective Work Order (CWO) to improve their people’s misdeeds. The CWO is a new disciplinary measure and may not be suitable in Nepal’s context. For example, despite all efforts to clean the Bagmati by some campaigners, there some people are still dumping garbage into it, making all the efforts go down the drain.

Nonetheless, the Bagmati clean-up campaign has drawn the attention of the general public to the sorry state of the river.

We have to find a sustainable way to keep the rivers clean.