Reviving the Bagmati

Feb 28, 2011
*Special to asia!

Bird Conservation Nepal cleans up Kathmandu valley's greatest river and initiates a revolutionary undertaking to restore a degraded waterway.

Hardly as great as the Bagmati River, but sharing a similar history, is the Singapore River, which endured a century of pollution from rapidly expanding river trade and industrial development. In 1977, the then Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, put forth an ambitious goal for the government to clean up the Singapore River. Industries located by the river were relocated and squatters were resettled. Refuse was collected for incineration, hawkers issued licenses and provided appropriate sewerage amenities. The dredging of the river bed and the removal of hundreds of tons of debris which had been piled up over the years helped marine life to return to the tidal river. Ten years later in 1987, the clean-up of the Singapore River was completed. Today, recreational activities have returned to the Singapore River, and cafes and restaurants line its banks.

The Singapore River project created employment for many during and after its restoration phase, but more than anything it gave hope to what appeared so desperately hopeless. The construct of the Bagmati Nature Park should be awarded similar appreciation. The approach and methods will differ from that of Singapore's but it is apparent that the know-how, creativity and desire that is required to rehabilitate this river exists. The success of the Bagmati Nature Park can and should be replicated along other sections of the system.

In a country where it has become second nature to pitifully criticise and commiserate any endeavour or lack off, the biggest and hardest habit to break might be that which allows one to slow down, observe, and celebrate the milestones.

debby ngDebby Ng forayed into journalism following failed attempts at becoming a world-class equestrian. A wildlife crime investigator, underwater photographer, dive master and founder of a marine conservation organisation, she spends what remains of her time writing about the environment, its wildlife, and its people.

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