A well that had water until last year has run dry this year. There is not a single drop of water. Now, the tanker has become the source of water. The road dug last year for laying drinking water pipes is still muddy. The rural water sources are rapidly drying up. The villages are experiencing landslides—an unprecedented phenomenon. Some of the rivers that were clean and pristine until a few years ago have turned into a sewage. The greeneries on the hills are gradually declining.
Wild animals have been moving towards human settlement in search of habitat. The flow of rivers has been dwindling. As a result, the rivers have been changing their courses. Only a few years ago, fish could be seen swimming in pristine river. But now we can’t see the fish. The ponds near human settlements have become polluted, while a few ponds are at the brink of drying up. We have started building huge buildings by encroaching on the ponds and lakes. We earn billions of rupees and influence powerful people, and lead a comfortable life in a castle with compound. Ironically, we criticized the government for not collecting the garbage while dumping the trash in the open. Our poorly maintained and old private vehicles are emitting pollution.
Nobody cares though these sights are so common in front of us. Be it the member of general public, community, or government bodies, no one seems to be worried about the series of crisis that afflicted the environment. No doubt, we have made a huge stride in terms of physical development than a decade ago. The development of infrastructure is positive. However, no one really cares about the rapidly drying water sources. The reason is our failure to protect the environment nearby the sources. We took it for granted while deciding to use cement to build modern well without studying the situation of water sources. We never bothered to conserve the ponds in our surroundings. That’s why our ponds are drying up. Unfortunately, neither anyone has enlightened us on this issue nor we ever bothered to understand it by ourselves. Landslides are occurring more often, during monsoon, than in the past. Our settlements are facing the risks. The government has been making an all-out effort for rescue operation, which is obviously a positive step. But why is the landslide risk growing? Why haven’t we educated the people about it? Have the local governments addressed this issue? We are not hesitant to use bulldozers for infrastructure development without paying attention to its geological among other aspects. Who would do the study before opening a road track? There is a growing trend among local bodies to allocate budget for each and every village and mobilize dozer for road construction by forming consumer’s committee. Who would bother about protecting the trees, biodiversity and environment while opening road tracks? The recently elected local leaders are in a race to score better in terms of development work. Besides, there is lack manpower with information and knowledge about environment protection.
The condition of road has been getting worse day by day. Rivers are being exploited at an alarming rate. No one is concerned and aware about the conservation of the aquatic animals. The river is becoming polluted and the fish are dying. Last year we regularly wrote the news about disposal of chicken feces in Andhi River of Syngja district. The rivers of urban area are turning into sewage. We should have learnt lessons from the plight facing these rivers, but we are not. Even the rivers of rural areas are becoming polluted because of the growing settlements along the banks. The authority has not taken any initiatives to control it. In addition, various studies have shown that the aquatic animals are bearing the brunt of the construction of infrastructure. A study by the Asian Development Bank last year pointed out the decline in number of fish owing to the construction of dam and other infrastructure.
Our current development model is taking us on the path to destruction along with the progress. But no one is ready to make reforms about it. We seem to have failed to learn from the past blunders in urban development and repeating the same mistakes in the new cities. No lesson has been learned from the mistakes of other countries. This shows lack of visionary political leadership in our country and utter helpless of the general public and community.
What else should we talk about the government?
At least the local government can collect and dispose the garbage on time and take action against those involved in littering the trash. But we are forced to come across heaps of garbage at every other junction in Kathmandu. The authority can, at the least, strictly implement the environment related laws. Before undertaking any big project, we can effectively implement the Environmental Impact Assessment—rather than just making it ritualistic. The stakeholders and general public can hold serious consultation and discussions on this issue. Unfortunately, that is not happening. There has not even been any minimum coordination and cooperation while opening or digging a road. The government should be playing the mediator’s role in bringing the private and other sectors into a one place for environment conservation. Granted, we have enough bodies working for environment. The Department of Environment has not been able to make its work effective. We haven’t been able to tell the hospitals to not dispose the waste directly to sewage and rivers.
Is it only the government who should be responsible for all these matters? Definitely not! Why we and our community are not awaking? The community can build a pond for recharging the underground water. They can join hands to stop disposing the garbage in open spaces, and to turn the public land into a green park by protecting the government land. Instead of blacktopping the public land in our neighborhood, we can make them green. However, we forced to asphalt the area to use it as parking lot for our car and avoid mud. While covering every possible open space with asphalt and concrete, we are asking why the water sources are drying up. We pride ourselves on our money and knowledge, but fail to realize that the water is drying because of the asphalt covering. At our tea shops, we hold serious debate on why the water sources are drying. The answer is simple: we failed to manage the recharge.