Towards IWRM and River Basin Planning in Nepal: The Bagmati River Basin ExperienceShishir Koirala, Laurent Anstett, Arnaud Cauchois, Lance Gore
3and present efforts for managing the basin and the Bagmati River through its differentinstitutions. Finally, the paper puts forward recommendations for overcoming the identifiedissues and challenges.
2 Key Issues and Challenges
Major management issues and challenges of BRB differ according to locations within the basin:
2.1 Upper BasinUnplanned Urbanization:
The total population of Nepal currently stands at about 26.6 million.Kathmandu valley alone accounts for approximately one third of Nepal’s urban population andone tenth of Nepal’s total population. Kathmandu district is the most populated area withpopulation density of 4,408 inhabitants per square kilometer. The population in KathmanduValley increased from 0.41 million in 1952/54 to 1.6 million in 2001 and then to 2.51 million in2011, the year of the last census.
However, these figures do not account for temporaryresidents and it is said that about 4 million people are living in the valley at present. The mainfactors that entice country dwellers to migrate to Kathmandu include: high level of insecuritycaused by the "people's war" during the 10 years conflict 1996-2006; the lack of regional jobopportunities (limited industrial and farm jobs); and the lack of basic infrastructure and servicesin the provinces including limited education and health facilities. Unfortunately the rapidurbanization lacks proper planning and land use zoning which has strongly impacted on theriver systems in Kathmandu. The uncontrolled development in semi-urban areas withinKathmandu Valley and associated growing demand for domestic water supply have encroachedon water resources that were once primarily allocated for irrigation and the agriculture sector.Nowadays, there is also overexploitation of water by a growing number of industries and theservice sector. Owing to these factors, the frequency of water use conflicts has escalated notonly among farmers but also among the urban population, service sector and the industrialsector.
Most riparian areas of the Bagmati River and its tributaries in Kathmandu are usedas solid waste dumping sites of individual houses and municipalities. Some privateorganizations collecting waste from the households are also found dumping waste directly alongthe river banks. Furthermore, most domestic and industrial sewage directly discharges into therivers untreated: there are currently five municipal waste water treatment plants (WWTPs)however only one is functioning, albeit with poor efficiency. Overtime, the steadily increasingpopulation and unchecked disposal of solid waste and wastewater into the rivers have made theBagmati River extremely polluted. The supply of fresh water within the Bagmati River is limited and seasonal; during the dryseason the river is nearly dry as most flow is diverted for drinking water supply and irrigation.Hence the river’s assimilative capacity during the long eight month dry season has been lost.Water quality indicators show a significant degradation as the river flows through the city andthe river is now considered biologically dead at Chovar Gorge, the downstream boundary of Kathmandu Valley.
PANT, D. B. 2012, Issues of Urban Governance in Nepal: With special reference to Kathmandu metropolitan.Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS), p. 1. The percentage of urban population increased from 2.9%in 1954 to 13.9% in 2001 and to about 17 % in 2011.