Nepal | September 22, 2020

Save Kathmandu: Time to invest in other cities

Vikash Raj Satyal
Share Now:

Focus must shift to improving the facilities that already exist. Kathmandu is already a major tourist destination; it is high time its cultural, religious and archaeological values were preserved well to make it even more beautiful

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

Our Capital city is becoming overcrowded by the day. While the population is reaching the Valley’s brim, dirt and dust have overpowered the three cities are renowned for their cultural and heritage values. Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur—the three cities of the Valley which are known as cities of temples—now are on the verge of losing their charm, thanks to mismanagement and failure on the part of all concerned to pay due attention.

Tall buildings all across the cities have swallowed the ancient structures with architectural and archaeological significance. What is most worrisome is the Valley has greatly lost open spaces, a grim fact that was realised the most when the devastating earthquake hit the country, including Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan. Roads have become narrower and rise in the number of vehicles day by day is making them even more congested. Traffic congestions, bad public transport facilities, absence of open spaces and greenery, haphazardly built concrete buildings–all are ruining the beauty of the Valley cities.

Until 2001, Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur, Thimi and Kirtipur had a population of around 1.5. But with the urban agglomeration across the Valley, which includes 11 cities of Kathmandu, four of Bhaktapur and three of Lalitpur, the population has reached about 4.5 million. While the nationwide decennial population growth rate is 1.35 percent, it is more than three times percent in the Valley.

Spread over 754 square kilometres, it is now one of the most dense and crowded capital cities of the world. In population density, we are equal to Bangkok and more crowded than London, Buenos Aires or Barcelona. But the planned infrastructures and management make

other capital cities more comfortable and healthy than Kathmandu.

Now, for most people who are living here, the city has become a compulsion rather than convenience.

With all types of pollution—air, water, land and noise—that is well above the permissible limits, city dwellers are exposed to health risks. According to the Pollution Index 2017 published by Numbeo.com, Kathmandu is the fifth most polluted capital city in the world.

City air is eight times more polluted on weekdays than the allowed World Health Organisation levels. According to doctors at Bir Hospital, death caused by air pollution has increased 25 percent more in 2016 than in 2015.

Drinking water is scarce in the city so almost all household have to rely on unreliable drinking w ater from private suppliers. In different studies, the presence of E coli and coliform bacteria in Valley water was found at an alarming rate at various places. They have found bacterial contamination in the drinking water at a level 10 to 15 times higher than the allowed level. In 2016 there was an outbreak of cholera, with 130 reported cases at the Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital of Kathmandu. Out of these 130 cholera-infected people, 101 were from Lalitpur and the remaining from Kathmandu. This dream city has crossed its threshold. Unbearable population density is responsible for most of the problems.

The Valley cities have not been able to cope with rising population, as they have not been upgraded as per the need. On the other hand, decentralisation process yet to work properly, people from across the country have been left with no option than to migrate to the  Capital, for it has good schools and colleges and better health facilities among others.

For most of the government-related works also people have to visit the Capital. All centrally administered offices and ministries are also here.

With recent elections, which have installed local governments at the grassroots and will install provincial governments in all seven provinces, there is hope that decentralisation process will soon be expedited. But as far as the Valley is concerned, there is an urgent need to check its expansion. New infrastructure in urban centres must not be allowed any more, while city councils must work to provide better services to people. Basic facilities like drinking water, public transport, drainage system and waste management must be upgraded.

Focus must shift to improving the facilities that already exist. Kathmandu is already a major tourist destination; it is high time its cultural, religious and archaeological values are preserved well to make it even more beautiful. The rate at which the Capital is bearing the brunt of overcrowding, dirt and pollution, the city may soon get exhausted. Seven new provinces have been carved out under the new constitution adopted in 2015.

While developing Kathmandu and other cities of the Valley and preserving their ancient values, it is time authorities charted out plans to build at least one well-managed city in each province. All provinces should be developed with good schools, colleges and health facilities. This will not only help Kathmandu maintain its charm but also will take a lot of burden from it. While working on the new cities in the provinces, city planners must take into account the pressure Kathmandu and other Valley cities have gone through. Investing in well-planned cities across the country will ultimately pay off in a long term, which will ultimately help in overall development of the country.

Satyal holds a PhD from University of Vienna


A version of this article appears in print on December 28, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

In Pictures: Lalitpur school provides internet facility to students sans access

Lalitpur, September 21 Teachers take online classes with internet facility provided by school at the empty classroom of Shree Rudrayanee Secondary School in Khokana, Lalitpur on Monday, September 21, 2020. The School has facilitated internet access to those students who cannot avail the same at h Read More...

Nepal COVID-19 Update: 1154 new cases, 1005 recoveries, 16 fatalities logged Monday

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s Health Ministry, in its regular press briefing, shared the latest updates on coronavirus contagion from across the country, and government’s response to the health crisis. Read Also: 674 more infections logged in Kathmandu valley, amounts to over 58pc of total new cases Read More...

Indian filmmaker Anurag Kashyap to pursue legal route against sexual misconduct allegations, actress Payal Ghosh to file FIR

KATHMANDU: Bollywood filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by budding actress Payal Ghosh, said he intends to pursue legal action while the actress has said she will file an FIR against him. Issuing a statement through his lawyer, Kashyap also said it was sad that a Read More...

Indian actress Richa Chadha initiates legal action after Payal Ghosh drags her name in #MeToo case against Anurag Kashyap

KATHMANDU: Bollywood actress Richa Chadha has revealed that she has initiated legal action against after her name was dragged in a defamatory in #MeToo case against filmmaker Anurag Kashyap by actress Payal Ghosh. In a video released to ABN Telugu, Ghosh claimed that Kashyap tried to harass her i Read More...

American actress Mindy Kaling finds Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor talented, wants to work with them

KATHMANDU: Indian origin American actress Mindy Kaling wants to work with Bollywood actresses Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor as she finds them talented. "I would love to work with Sonam Kapoor or Deepika Padukone. They're both so talented," Mindy was quoted as saying Read More...

Manchester City _Ilkay Gundogan

Man City's Gundogan tests positive for COVID-19

LONDON: Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League club said on Monday, making him the third player in the squad to return a positive test in recent weeks. City winger Riyad Mahrez and defender Aymeric Laporte previously tested positive for the Read More...

Djokovic to face Schwartzman in Italian Open final

ROME: Novak Djokovic was made to work hard by Casper Ruud in blustery conditions before the world number one got past the unseeded Norwegian 7-5 6-3 on Sunday to reach the Italian Open final. The Serbian had to save two set points in the first set before finding his groove to reach his 10th title Read More...

Leicester go top, Liverpool claim second win as goals fly in

LONDON: Champions Liverpool and Leicester City maintained their winning starts to the Premier League on Sunday as the second weekend of the new season produced a goal-rush. Sadio Mane scored twice just after the break to give Liverpool a 2-0 victory at Chelsea who played half the game with 10 men Read More...