Inaugural Speech Delivered by Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai, Rt. Honourable Prime Minister of Nepal for the Symposium on Issues and Challenges for the Conservation of Bagmati River System
Mr. Chairperson of this Special Program,
All the Guests in the Dais,
Foreign Diplomats and Participants from Development Partner Organizations,
All the Scholars and Journalists,
Ladies and Gentlemen
First of all, I would like to thank the organizers of this program: High Power Committee for the Integrated Development of the Bagmati Civilizaiton (HPCIDBC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)-Nepal Chapter for organizing the symposium on this important and pertinent topic: Issues and Challenges for the Conservation of Bagmati River System and providing me the opportunity to share my views on it with you all. Knowledge on how a system works, planning and programming in concordance with the issues of the system and effective implementation of programs according to the plan are the basic requirements for the sustainable functioning of each system: natural or manmade, and associated with people and the development. I am happy to see the involvement of an Alumni Association of a well-known Knowledge Generating Institution, AIT; IUCN-a renowned international organization working for pragmatic solutions to the most vital environment and development challenges and HPCIDBC, a governmental body devoted for the implementation of programs required for the enhancement of the Bagmati Civilizaiton in organizing this symposium. It has given me a sense of satisfaction too. It is because “Conservation of Bagmati River System” is one of the pressing issues of the day we have to deal with, in my belief, to transform this city to a real capital city of our country. And, you have shown the coordinated efforts in organizing this symposium on such an important subject which I have thought to have since a long time ago to get the feedback from its stakeholders.
We all are aware that the Bagmati River System is one of the important river systems of Nepal with high cultural and aesthetical values. However, in the absence of planned and coordinated integrated river basin management efforts, environmental degradation and cultural erosion as well as hydrological disasters have become the common phenomena in the Bagmati river system in recent years. Consequently, it has given rise to numerous social and environmental challenges in the whole River Basin, the Kathmandu Valley. In this period, the Bagmati River has almost turned in to a dead river from water resources point of view and even a negative demonstration of a sound urban sanitation system. The whole river system has been deteriorated in every sense but I do believe that the reviving is not irreversible and is very much possible.
As we all know that overall underdevelopment, extreme poverty and unemployment are major problems that have been existed in Nepal for a long time. In such situation, Bagmati River System and its civilization cannot remain unaffected during this period from the negative consequences of these phenomena, directly or indirectly. However, Nepal has gone through a great socio-political change recently. Although we have a long way to go ahead to make our nation prosperous, it has opened the avenues for country’s socio-economic development and environmental conservation to enhance the quality of life of the people. Expansion of road system of the Kathmandu Valley, initiation of projects of national importance, creation of the conducive environment for the national and international investments can be taken as some of the examples, which have become possible because of this change. I think, it is equally applicable to Bagmati River System improvement works too in the coming days. The only thing it demands is the dedication from all stakeholders and to fulfill our duties with sincerity. However, my conviction on it is that our effort should be directed to emancipate the people from the socio-cultural discrimination and poverty, even when we talk about the conservation of Bagmati Civilization.
I am fully aware that in order to combat with the present situation, many national and international organizations have been working for the revival of the lives and civilization of the Bagmati River with number of good programmes such as clean up campaigns, plantation, awareness programmes, the Bagmati River improvement programmes etc. I recall the initiatives taken by HPCIDBC in the development of infrastructures and recent evacuation of the settlements, illegally encroached along Bagmati bank, at this time. It needs to be continued. Despites these initiatives, it has not yet been adequate to produce physically visible and noteworthy impacts in the environment of the river system. It is the challenge to all of us to bring such significant positive change as soon as possible. In my opinion, implementation of the Bagmati Action Plan (BAP, 2009-14) which was formulated in August 2009 to restore and conserve the Bagmati River and its tributaries would be very useful in this respect. Further, the different stakes taken by numerous governmental and other organizations also need to be coordinated. For your information, the government is currently working to define the roles and responsibility of different organizations in clearer terms to avoid ambiguity on their works and for the speedy implementation of their respective programmes in the Kathmandu Valley.
I believe in both environmental protection and socio-economic growth of the Kathmandu Valley through conservation of this important Bagmati river system. We shall continue to develop partnerships between Government, National and International Non Government Organizations, Development Partners, and more over people and civil society in this endeavour. Thus, I urge all concerned stakeholders and development partners to provide support for this good cause. I assure you that Government of Nepal will support for such initiatives taken by any institution or individual from its end.
It is high time that has called for the need of policy review and new approach to make the Bagmati civilization lively and active. At this juncture, you are going to hold this important symposium. I hope the outcome of today’s symposium will be valuable to the Government of Nepal for shaping the policy regarding the issues of the Bagmati River System.
Finally, I do want to thank you all again and wish the success of this symposium.