IMAP Lecture 6 by Megh Ale
- 18 April, 2012
"Green Kathmandu, Clean Bagmati"
Rivers have played a significant role in the establishment of civilisations worldwide. They were the source of life in terms of food and water, and are important parts of a natural ecosystem. Many human activities were and are supported by the use of rivers for transport, agriculture and fishing, social and religious activities, urban waste disposal and so forth. Many cities of today have grown from historic river-based towns into major global metropolises. Thus, rivers have helped determine the urban design of cities and are extensively used as a form of public space or commons.
In Kathmandu Valley, the civilizations and cultures that flourished along the banks and plains of Bagmati and Bishnumati were predominantly agrarian. Even today the social and religious traditions of the original inhabitants of the Valley are strongly attached to these rivers. These two rivers are fundamentally important not only in a historic and cultural context but also in the larger modern context, as urban space for public activities.
In the modern Nepali context, although both rivers are highly venerated, they have also been deeply neglected and misused. Once a source of spirituality and vitality of an entire civilisation, they have now turned into a means of urban waste disposal. Their banks have been encroached upon and turned into zones of conflict between the state and displaced civilians. This has resulted in disfigurement and extensive damage of river ecology.
This lecture will address the importance of river conservation and the issues and challenges relating to it in the backdrop of an ever expanding urbanisation of the Kathmandu Valley.
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Conservation activist and tourism entrepreneur, Megh Ale started his career as a river guide more than three decades ago. An Ashoka Fellow, he is also the founder president of Nepal River Conservation Trust (NRCT) that works for the protection and conservation of Nepal's Himalayan Rivers. In 2001, he initiated the annual Bagmati River Festival, which has successfully focused on creating awareness in Bagmati’s conservation from cultural, urban and environmental perspectives, aiming to bring in policy changes at the state level.
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