Bagmati is the largest river of Kathmandu valley originating from Bagdwar in Shivapuri hill 25Km North of Kathmandu City at an altitude of 2650m above the sea level. Major tributaries of Bagmati are Bishnumati, Dhobikhola, Manohara, Tukucha, and Nakhhu.
Despite the fact that Bagmati is the beauty and dignity of Kathmandu having tremendous religious, aesthetic values, threats are innumerable. The major threats are direct disposal of sewage, industrial effluent, and human waste, and sand extraction from the river and encroachment of river banks by squatters and narrowing the river system, etc.
The needs of society are growing more than ever for water. However, recognition and addressing the impacts is missing. Around 40 million liters of wastewater are generated daily in Kathmandu, and 80 percent of it comes from households. Yet, only 10 percent of the river is actually water while the other 90 percent is sewage.
Recognizing the fact that chronically polluted Bagmati River and its tributaries lack serious planning, regulations; the ministerial cabinet of the Government of Nepal ratified Bagmati Actional Plan (BAP) on 11 August 2009 and approved the five-year plan as the official framework document for the development of the river system of Kathmandu Valley.
Bagmati Clean-Up Campaign was then initiated on 29 January 2012 which was supported by the then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and was himself involved in cleaning. The Bagmati Cleaning Campaign plans to clean the river from Baghdwar to Chobhar. But with the change in government, the campaign was not continued further.
Again, the Bagmati Cleaning Mega Campaign began on May 19, 2013. A campaign for cleaning of the Bagmati and its tributaries continued every Saturday with people participating from different walks of life. They came together for a common concern: to restore the lost glory of Bagmati. Thousands of participants had so far collected more than 5,000 metric tons of waste. The cleaning campaign that started from the Kathmandu Valley has now expanded across more than a hundred places in the country.
Despite relentless efforts to clean Bagmati and its tributaries the condition of Bagmati is still not satisfactory. To integrate river water pollution management, it is essential to protect water quality and maintain ecologically and economically healthy urban development of the Kathmandu Valley.
To meet the target of making Bagmati River Sewage-free up to 2020, the Government of Nepal is in the process of upgrading wastewater treatment plants of Guheshwori and started three new treatment plants in Sallaghari Bhaktapur, Kodku in Balkumari, and Dhobighat in Lalitpur. One more treatment plant is in the process of establishment for the purification of water in Khokana of Lalitpur. All those treatment plants would stop sewage from directly mixing into the main River and a total of 102.7 billion liters of wastewater will be treated daily.
Only the efforts of The Government and Campaigners cannot achieve the goal. It is the responsibility of everyone to clean the Bagmati as all of us need the river. To reverse the degradation of the Bagmati we should come together.
It is the responsibility of everyone to clean up the mess we created. Locals living around the River periphery should be aware and committed to working for Bagmati and its tributaries. River dump culture should be punished and we should segregate our waste. It is possible to reverse the condition of Bagmati only when there are active involvement and synchronization between the Government, Campaigners, and the stakeholders to reverse the degradation of Bagmati.