The #14 issue of Nepali Times 4-10 October 2000 shows how little things have changed in 20 years. An exclusive investigation on the Melchami project in that edition tried to get to the bottom of the delays in the scheme to bring water through a 26km tunnel from Langtang National park to Kathmandu. the capital is still waiting for the project to be finished.
Hemlata Rai reports on the political ramifications of Kathmandu’s garbage mismanagement, particularly along the banks of the Bagmati, Teku and other areas. Another problem that has not be solved 2 decades later.
The paper also profiled Prem Suwal who was the youth leader and Mayor of Bhaktapur 20 years ago. The short story describes Suwal’s modesty and his love for his city and his passion to maintain Bhaktapur’s rich culture and heritage. Suwal is now member of the Federal Parliament.
Excerpts from these three stories:
Melchami on our minds: Kathmandu is running out of water, but this is due more to mismanagement and under-utilisation of existing supplies than a real shortage. Upgrading existing capacity and expanding antiquated water mains would be adequate for now. But at the rate Kathmandu is growing, the Valley will need extra water from outside. The Asian Development Bank is to give the final green light for the $450 million project next month. But it will take at least six years for the first drop of water to reach Kathmandu.
With the population now nearing 1.5 million, the valley’s only river has turned into a sewer. Water shortages have become a year-round phenomenon, not just something that happened in the dry season.
Trash is back: The dumping along the Bagmati was stopped after several aircraft suffered bird hits at the Kathmandu Airport recently, which many said could have resulted because the waste was attracting the birds.
“Studies have clearly established that using city waste as filling material for the GuheshworiGokarna road was totally safe and certainly the cause for the bird hazard at the airport,” said Kul Prasad Marhatta, member-secretary of the Solid Waste Management National Council at the Local Development Ministry.
The government’s search for a permanent dumping site began after the Gokarna landfi ll had run out of space. It has been considering four other potential sites since-Ramkot, Syuchatar, Thankot, and Okharpauwa-and has even spent millions to build the necessary infrastructure.
Mayor Suwal: Mayor Prem Suwal of Bhaktapur isn’t the kind of mayor that one would expect to meet in a city with a success story to relate. He doesn’t go around in a fancy car, and he doesn’t make reckless promises. Being down to earth is his style.
Running a city that is a living museum and heritage site is one thing, being successful at preserving the cultural traditions is quite another. Bhaktapur has been acclaimed for its conservation efforts.
“The hardest part was making people understand why we needed to preserve what is left, that it wasn’t just my city or your city but our city. Once they understood this, everybody cooperated,” explains Suwal. From the archives of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: www.nepalitimes.com.