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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Preface: Kathmandu’s Sustainable Development (Pg. 2) Intro: A Sustainable Kathmandu (Pg. 3) Restoring Air Quality (Pg. 5) Sustainable Urban Mobility and Air Quality (Pg. 7) Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (Pg. 9) !"#$%&'%(")*&+(,-"./*&$%0&1."&2-$3./*!"#$%!&'! ! 4-#3.,&5$%0&!/.3.6$/.7%!"#$%!(('! ! 4$"89!"#$%!(('! ! 4$"89&$9&:7;;-%./*&:(%/("9!"#$%!()'! ! <7;(%=9&+>$,(&$%0&+$?(/*!"#$%!()'! ! @$33(*=9&A"((9!"#$%!(*'! ! <$/("&+(,-"./*!"#$%!(+'! ! B770&+(,-"./*!"#$%!(,'! ! Energy and Carbon-Efficient Built Environment (Pg. 17) Infrastructure Codes (Pg. 19) Urban Slums and the Homeless (Pg. 22) Waste Management (Pg. 22) Reducing and Mitigating Sound Pollution (Pg. 24) Urban Wildlife and Animal Management (Pg. 25) Traffic Police Benefits (Pg. 26) Kathmandu Tourism (Pg. 26) Bipartisan Action and Public Participation Mechanism (Pg. 28) Public Services (Pg. 29) Urban Security (Pg. 29) Strengthening Institutions and International Secretariats based in Kathmandu (Pg. 30) Implementation and Financing (Pg. 30)
Kathmandu’s Sustainable Development There are many issues that I have tried to address at a national level, and many issues at a local level. However, there are some important issues that do not fall in either of those categories, and that in-between category is that of my local constituency. In that respect, while I am running to represent the Kathmandu-4 constituency, I am certain and clear about the fact that the problems of our constituency are common ones shared by much of Kathmandu. These issues need to be addressed together. This is why the work I need to do and solutions I propose this as my working Kathmandu Master Plan that considers a range of issues at once for maximum, holistic impact. As a resident of Kathmandu valley, I know the challenges we face on a daily basis. I have the same water problems as vast majority of the valley’s inhabitants, and my three year old daughter breathes the same dangerous air that all of us here do on a daily basis. What has happened to the quality of life in Kathmandu? We have urbanized rapidly, but our quality of life in the valley has decreased just as fast. We need to change our course. We cannot just blindly urbanize; we need to improve the quality of life as well. In short, we need to develop consciously and sustainably. The global 2012 Environmental Performance Index ranks 132 countries on 22 performances. The results are based on 10-years of data sets. In that, Nepal’s overall ranking was 38. However, in the Environment Health category we came as 106th. Within that, for the Air Quality (Effects on Human Health) sub category, we ranked even lower at 130 out of 132. And for the sub-category Water (Effects on Human Health) we stood at 102. We need to do better than this for our citizens. What about Kathmandu? In the 2012 report, The State of the World’s Cities Report released by The United Nations Human Settlements Programme, Kathmandu is ranked 60 out of 95 cities in prosperity with a total score of 0.598. That score places Kathmandu in the second last category of cities with “Weak Prosperity Factors.” Cities scoring 0.600 or higher is considered cities with “moderate prosperity factors,” and cities scoring 0.800 – 0.899 is considered cities with “solid prosperity factors.” Why have we become weak? In the same study’s Quality of Life category Kathmandu scores 0.621, while it scores 0.740 for Infrastructure and 0.704 for Environment. But what is the use of infrastructure if it does not improve the quality of life, or it if makes the environment unbearable? We must think not just for ourselves, but for our children and grandchildren. We must as ask ourselves if this is the best we can do. I believe we can do better. Here is the good news: cities can make a comeback, if its policy makers and people work for it. It is not too late for us. Some of the most prosperous cities today have all had their dark periods before coming back to regain their glory. As a policy maker, I worked for this comeback in the last Constituent Assembly and Parliament. Even after the Parliament was dissolved, I continued to work for our cause. And now, there is an opportunity for us to speed up process of making Kathmandu liveable again. We will together make this city, our home, a symbol of sustainable urban development while retaining the valley’s rich multi-cultural heritage. And I am myself now clearer on the work that needs to be done urgently, and I ask you for your support. This is why I have spent considerable time
studying expert opinions, reflecting and listening carefully to all of you. I present my vision and my plan in this chapter.
A Sustainable Kathmandu: One thing is clear: the pressure on Kathmandu and its resources needs to be relieved. It is running out of space, it is exhausting its habitable and arable land, and its water and air have become dangerously polluted. The quality of our built environment, particularly in the context of natural disasters, is highly questionable. Which is why clear parameters need to establish for the valley, with defined plans for satellite cities. Every topic addressed below is what I consider to be a part of the bigger master plan I envision for the valley. And all of it is based on the fundamental belief that: 1) A cut off point needs to be clearly established so that all built environment and development plans from a certain date follow certain norms and regulations, including the proposals listed below. That date could be soon after the Parliament is elected and able to work on this proposal, perhaps early 2014. 2) These new, or reestablished codes and regulations must then also be retroactively implemented as extensively as possible for those built environment constructed before the set cut-off point. It is imperative for fellow policymakers and Kathmandu inhabitants to understand that we cannot continue to build and urbanize the way we have been for the last decade or two. Urban development is key to a more sustainable future not just for Kathmandu, or Nepal, but in the global context too. To lose this opportunity to make Kathmandu a part of that future would be tragic most of all for Kathmandu’s residents, and Nepal. As the least urbanized but fastest urbanizing country in South Asia, we need to be all the more careful and dedicated to a sustainable model of urbanization. And Kathmandu must set not just a national example, but a regional one. Kathmandu valley today is at a critical point: it could either become one of the biggest urban disasters in South Asia, or it could become a symbol of restoration and positive transformation by emphasizing sustainable development. But as things stand now, Kathmandu is at a precarious point: its food and energy is imported from outside, and its only major water supply project is designed to tunnel water in from outside too. All that the valley was blessed with inside has been rapidly deteriorating of exhausted: air quality is at an all time poor, farm lands have been converted to bricks or real estate at an unsustainable pace, and its water supplies is based on companies that illegally extract groundwater with no long-term water availability plans. Building codes need urgent updates, and the lack of enforcement of codes that exist has helped make Kathmandu one of the most earthquake vulnerable cities in the world. Population density has increased but public spaces have decreased. Irrespective of its political structure and designation, be
it a district or a Federal State, there are countless challenges Kathmandu faces today to become truly livable with a sustainable future. This document, prepared with a lot of discussions and research, is not an over promise or a list of hopes or election promises. This is simply a road map, a guide, for a better healthier and a more livable and sustainable Kathmandu, so that our lessons, both good and bad, can be an example for the rest of the country. And it is not optional for us to move in this direction, but rather an absolute necessity. As stated earlier, there are some things for which I cannot separate just my constituency. The air quality of Kathmandu has to be restored and improved, not just Constituency-4’s. The valley needs to be climate and disaster resilient, not just my constituency. And it is the same for every issue about living here that I can think so. Which is why after November’s elections, 15 Member of Parliament elected to represent Kathmandu’s 15 constituencies will have to work together for critical issues that Kathmandu and its residents can no longer afford put aside. Of course, our constituency will be at the heart of my policies but in order to get what we want we must seek valley wide policies. We must work together with all those actions affect us. I will lead the other representatives in this valley-wide effort. What is outlined in this document, however, are not the only issues that need to be worked on. These are one single candidate’s must-do list for Kathmadnu and Nepal. And I am confident these are at the foundation of every other issue that needs work. It is my intention that after the elections this document will serve as the foundation for even greater models and immediately actionable policies to help make Kathmandu as sustainable as possible and a model for Nepal’s other urban centers. It is my hope that like me, the 14 other elected representatives will be able to see themselves not just as their party’s representatives but also the elected representatives of the people of Kathmandu, that means representatives of their problems, their aspirations, their lives. From my last experience in the Constituent Assembly as well as the Parliament, it was clear that many of us were able to efficiently conduct the work mandated in our respective CA Committees, as well as in the Parliamentary Committees. And perhaps if any candidate feels that they cannot perform those two mandated duties, then they should make way for candidates who are more interested and willing. Nepali Congress as a party is fully committed to making Kathmandu an example of sustainable development as well as progressive restoration. As a party, we are committed to orienting our policies to reflect the fact that an urban center or a city is not just a space of humans and their built environment, but integral to any such space is its natural environment too. But we must remember, at once, that we will need to go beyond party politics and minor squabbles. It is time to work together to solve the larger issues that we face. These policies, in combination, touch issues of air, water, food, energy, natural disaster preparedness, climate resilience, public health and safety, mobility, and many other issues that are critical to ensuring that our valley is as sustainable as we can be, for both
economical and ecological sake. And they will only work if we commit to them as a single package, in a holistic way, together. It is not enough for some of us to commit and not others. It is all or nothing. With this in the mind, the party commits to a sustainable development of Kathmandu, with the understanding that its ecology and economy are intricately linked. And that for economic and human development, Kathmandu’s natural environment must not only be retained, but a lot of must be reestablished. The policy and action proposals below for a Sustainable and Liveable Kathmandu are all important individually, but will be most effective when undertaken holistically. And it is our belief that the suggestions listed here remain just as important, irrespective of the political form and title Kathmandu valley may be given in the future.
1. Restoring Air Quality Air quality, mainly the pollutants in air caused by human activities, is now identified as a major reason not just for serious health problems but a cause of death. A new report has shown that about 2.1 million deaths occur every year globally because of a toxic pollutant knows as Fine Particulate Matter, or PM2.5. The United Nations Environment Program has also made it clear that particles between PM.01 and PM10 have the greatest impact on human health. PM10 is among the most harmful of all air pollutants. When inhaled these particles evade the respiratory system's natural defenses and lodge deep in the lungs. Health problems begin as the body reacts to these foreign particles. PM10 can increase the number and severity of asthma attacks, cause or aggravate bronchitis and other lung diseases, and reduce the body's ability to fight infections. Kathmandu’s air quality has been recording extremely high levels of PM2.5 and PM10 for many years now and has been noted by the World Health Organization has having “very high” air pollution. The World Health Organisation has guidelines recommending that annual exposure be limited to 20 microgrammes per cubic metre for PM10 and 10 microgrammes per cubic metre for PM2.5 In 2007, Kathmandu’s PM10 level was already 173 microgrammes per cubic meter. According to a new scientific studty conducted across 9 countries, it has been found that every increase of five microgrammes per cubic metre of PM2.5 drove the risk of lung cancer up by 18 per cent. And Every increase of 10 microgrammes per cubic metre of PM10 boosted risk by 22 per cent, including for adenocarcinoma, a type of lung cancer associated with non-smokers. This means Kathmandu’s air quality level is at an extremely dangerous level for public health. There is also a general consensus amongst experts that exposure to air pollutants is largely beyond the control of individuals and requires action by public authorities at the national, regional and even international levels. Which is why unless we take immediate and progressive actions to clear Kathmandu’s air, its residents will live in jeopardy every day, breathing in the kind of
air that instead of giving them a full life will make them sick. This is why policies need to be developed and implemented so that the quality of Kathmandu’s air is restored to as a healthy level as possible. In order to do this, a set of multiple actions will need to be taken simultaneously, and in coordination with each other. These actions will need to include tackling our primary sources of air pollution, namely brick factories, traffic, and diesel generators, as well as taking measures to filter the valley’s pollutants and control dust levels. The brick factories of Kathmandu have been cited as a big reason for pollution. There is already work being done to clear up Kathmandu’s brick kilns, which is a great initiative. But more actions need to be taken through various sectors. Environmental effects are a common by product of industrial development, but there are ways to control our exposure to these contaminants. But urgent work also needs to be done to not just prevent the current dust of Kathmandu due to road construction work, but also to set a standard for future dust pollution mitigation and general ways to minimize dust pollution in the city. And for this, we need to develop landscaping, barrier, and fencing mechanisms to reduce windblown dust, a method that many developed countries are adopting to deal with their own PM10 pollution. Policies will need to be established to make sure and other materials are used properly to control dust flow from construction sites of all kinds. School bus stops, as well as mass transit stops, will also need consideration on being made a dust and pollution safe zone. The current level of pollution exposure to those waiting for school buses and public transit is not safe for their health. Air pollution is also directly related to the vehicles that are on Kathmandu’s roads. Which is why it is critical to ensure that Kathmandu adopts a strong model for urban mobility in the transportation sector. This is discussed in greater detail under the heading Sustainable Urban Mobility. However, an important fleet of vehicles that does not fall into the Private ownership sector is the publicly owned vehicles, and vehicles that are used for public projects. Which is why, it is important to set a basic standard for those vehicles too. Any vehicles used for projects from government tender must pass emission standard tests in order to qualify for the project. At the same time, Government vehicles must be of the highest and cleanest emission level. The National Security forces, and the valley Police bodies too must upgrade their fleet to the most efficient and cleanest form possible. NC believes that as a representative of the public, it must work to make sure that public offices are not contributing to factors that harm public health. Which is why these emissions standards must be mandatory for public projects and the government. Understanding peak pollution hours in the valley will also be important as it will allow policy makers to understand if certain types of outdoor work can be arranged outside of those peak hours. Public Service Announcements to help the public understand when the air quality is best and word during the day is also an important investment to ensuring that public health is not jeopardized due to pollution.
A healthy tree population in the valley is a must to filter the air, control dust flow, and to reduce crating urban heat bubbles. Trees for Kathmandu is discussed in greater detail under the heading ‘Valley’s Trees’. While NC commits to addressing issues and solutions outlined in those headings, it is also our commitment to ensure we have a steady and reliable reading of our air quality. Which is why we believe it is absolutely necessary to invest in monitoring, and documenting Nepal’s air quality by setting aside a budget not only to extensively install state of the art air quality monitors in Kathmandu, but in various other locales such as major and emerging urban centers, Municipalities, and District Head Quarters. Ensure this budget includes potential costs of a permanent team as well as part-time team members that will be needed to operate, monitor, and maintain the equipments, as well as the cost of orienting and training them, and other similar expenses. The budget should incorporate maintenance costs too. The monitors should therefore come with a rollover or an accumulative maintenance budget that could be transferred to the next fiscal year should it remain unused. It is important to note that these investments are not a one-time effort, but something that the nation needs to commit to for the long-term. In order to maximize the investment in the monitors, the government must also seriously consider investing in digital billboards in all the locations where the monitors have been installed to constantly display the latest available data. And to ensure the monitors are able to do their work uninterrupted, the budget set aside for it should also include the installation of solar power backup that will enable the monitors to function with no power failures. That budget should also keep into consideration maintenance of such a backup power system. Reliable data should be one of the key foundations on which we base our policies on an issue that is as sensitive and important as public health.
2. Sustainable Urban Mobility and Air Quality Urban mobility is a key part of any urban center. And how we design and address this part of the urban center is critical to how it develops and how livable any city becomes. Currently, Kathmandu’s urban mobility is highly private motor vehicle oriented, with a public mass transit system that is not well managed, and streets that are not friendly to pedestrians or cyclists. Here are a few proposals that NC commits to in order to help Kathmandu transition towards Sustainable Urban Mobility. 1) Mass Transit is made more accessible and modern to help reduce the need for making private vehicles primary mode of transport. In that, the vehicle used for mass transit it self should comply to latest emission standards. Policy will be developed to ensure Mass Transit that works on clean or renewable energy are able to offer their services with as little bureaucratic hurdles as possible. Much like Kathmandu once phased out a certain model of pollution engine, we must take an equally bold stand now to develop and implement a policy for mass transit that clearly favors clean energy to power it. Commuters spend a lot of time in traffic inside their mass transit vehicle. If the emissions of these vehicles fail standard tests, then the public is being
exposed to health risks. Which is why Mass Transit companies using vehicles that are outdated and fail emissions standards must make the transition to ones that do not pose emission related health risks to those using their service. Mass transit should also ensure it is accessible to those who are differently abled. 2) As much as it is possible, Bike lanes must be developed in a way so that cyclists are protected not just from motor vehicles, but also from the elements, such as rain, sun, and dust. This will help encourage a significant population of the valley to use bicycles are a regular mode of commute, especially if they can mix it with mass transit. These would include initiatives such as developing safe parking stations at locations that are designated mass transit stops, and constructing city friendly canopies above the bike paths that shelter cyclists from the sun and the rain. Green walls, of plants over light materials, separating the main road and bike paths could also help to keep dust and pollution outside the bike paths, which would be beneficial to pedestrians as well. 3) Private vehicles should be mandated to comply with latest emissions standards, and they need to be a part of a mobility culture with a strong clean mass transit system and safe cycling options. And in the choice for private vehicles itself, policy must be set in place so that the consumers are able to make the most environment, finance and health friendly choice as possible: that is, the electric vehicle. The biggest challenge for Electric Vehicles in Nepal’s urban centers right now is not public awareness, bur rather its price tag. Removing taxes on Electric Vehicle (EV) import and sales would make them extremely competitive with petroleum-based vehicles. As for operation, EVs cost only a fraction compared to petroleum. This is why NC will work towards setting an Eclectic Vehicle target for Nepal’s urban centers. It would be a priority action to make electric vehicles and the infrastructures they need as accessible to the general public and private homes and individuals as possible. For this, NC would take a holistic approach to integrate its energy policies on solar powering offices and homes so that charging electric vehicles would be primarily done through those solar sources too. NC would also work in its first budget to push for a cash voucher to pay for Solar power equipments and electric vehicles purchased as package. Electric Vehicles remove the need for GoN to import petrol or diesel for the car for at least 10 to 15 years. Therefore, for every electric vehicle used instead of fossil fuel based vehicle, the GoN makes a net saving by reducing the need to import fuel for that vehicle. Therefore, we believe that the GoN should use 50% of its savings from projected savings of reduced fossil fuel imports to help pay for the capital cost of the solar installation for the electric vehicle concerned. Cost of projected fossil fuel imports could be revised and declared each fiscal year, based on the cost of petrol and diesel at the time of the budget announcement. Qualifying Solar systems should meet defined minimum power generation and quality pre-requisites. Since an Individual’s choice to buy an EV and power it with solar benefits the country, it is worth considering additional incentives too. Most major automakers manufacture EVs too. So auto dealers representing them in Nepal would get to sell not just petroleum-based models but also start a new EV market for the company they represent. These suggested policies could be initially limited to the next 5 years, after
which it should be reevaluated based on expected outcomes to decide its full or partial continuity, or end. Even after losing tax revenues from Electric Vehicles and offering additional subsidy to power it with Solar, the GoN would still make a net profit per vehicle due to reduced dependency on fossil fuel. It would also be advised to explore Clean Development Mechanism funds for which Nepal is eligible to pay for these initiatives. It would also be important for Kathmandu to find private-public partnerships to develop public electric vehicle charging stations that could also otherwise serve as public energy hubs that could become crucial in times of energy crisis or natural disasters. Electric Vehicles are also significantly quieter than conventional vehicles. This is an important benefit for the city, discussed in greater detail in the Reducing and Mitigating Sound Pollution section below. 3. Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: As an investment in public energy infrastructure, and to compliment and induce the growth of the electric vehicle technology, Kathmandu will have to invest in hybrid charge stations with both grid and solar components in various major public hubs around the city. Offices and other properties with high traffic and parking volume will also be required to make steady investment in such charge stations with some subsidy assistance. These charge stations will be viewed not just as vehicle charging stations, but also more importantly a series of public and private energy sources that could be tapped into during times of emergency and natural disasters, and should be enabled with reverse metering for grid use too. On a private scale, offices and homes must move towards being their own sources of fuel supply for the car, and other needs. 4. Urban Energy Security and Air Quality Kathmandu valley’s energy source is entirely imported. Its electricity is channeled in from outside the valley through a complicated network of national grid and its substations connected to various energy production sites in different parts of the country or to the Indian grid. And its fossil fuel is trucked in from southern border districts through the national highway. In essence, Kathmandu is highly energy insecure as it depends on countless external factors to meet its energy needs. The only real energy production capacity installed in Kathmandu today is the privately owned diesel generators that now total to more than 150MW of installed capacity. Even to run this, however, Kathmandu still has to depend on diesel being trucked into the valley. And producing this kind of energy is not only extremely fiscally unsustainable and damaging, but also a major ecological and public health threat. Last year as much 59% of the 700,000 liters of daily diesel demand was for diesel generators.
But there may be a way in which a significant part of this diesel generator dependency can be reduced while increasing Kathmandu’s sustainable energy infrastructure. We need to begin the process of replacing our diesel generators with solar energy, and an Energy Exchange Agreement (EEA) policy with the Alternative Energy Promotion Center and Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) needs to be set in place. This would mean extra electricity produced by a building’s solar unit would be sent to NEA, for which NEA would credit the building’s electricity bill at either a fixed rate or NEA’s tariffs already in place, or a new pricing mechanism that will be established without adding financial stress on NEA or other consumers. For technical reasons (voltage fluctuation, transmission loss) NEA is generally open to signing any kind of power purchase or exchange agreements with sources that produce at least 100kw. With a net-metering based EEA in place, electricity would flow both in and out of the building with no obligation for NEA to pay cash for what it takes. If the building owner chooses a storage mechanism with batteries, then the building would be largely using its own solar power and charging its backup system with it too, reducing its dependency on both diesel generators and NEA. Every 100kw solar unit installed and used by a building means it saves on diesel and NEA fees. During dry months, when the power crisis is at its worst, these consumers would have less demand from and more supply for NEA, a benefit for both parties. This would also set the stage for a broader future policy overview on enabling some combination of net metering and feed-in-tariff with those who don’t need to install a 100kw system for their regular use. We believe there should be significant switch to solar by those who have to currently depend on diesel generators and that process should be subsidized with a mix of grant and low-interest loan to the greatest extent possible so that the issue of capital cost, the biggest barrier for solar investments, becomes a non-issue. The subsidy itself needs to be a domestic effort in combination with the help of development partners who have already invested and pledged millions to develop Nepal’s energy sector. There are several international and regional sustainable urban development funds, and multiple pollution and greenhouse gas emission related funds Nepal could tap into for this effort. While the subsidy may cover the installation of solar PVs or other technologies, we would work to understand if it could be extended to storage components. We would also work with major urban centers to see if local governments could offer limited property tax holiday or subsidies for those that are making the switch from diesel to solar. A similar programs for more lower-needs consumers and residences also needs to be established so that Kathmandu is not just a net energy consumer, but also a real energy producer using sustainable and renewable energy technologies and sources. It
is a capacity that Kathmandu needs to progressively increase and make a committed investment in for its energy security and sustainability.
5. Public Land Utilization For far too long, Kathmandu’s public land have been abused to the extent a significant portion of it has been privatized or given to institutions without a public discourse over it. Which is why I want to create a public database of Kathmandu valley’s public land. Once this is done, through a public discourse and in consultation with planners and experts, I want to see how best those lands can be used for the public good of the valley and its residents, including the option of preserving them simply as urban forest (discussed in greater detail in the section Valley’s Trees. One thing that is lacking and investment is needed in is to develop large exhibition spaces much like the Bhrikutimandap, but with modern amenities. Spaces of this nature helps create the kind of space which private and foreign sectors can use to host public events which helps keep the city vibrant and its local economy running. 6. Parks Public parks are an essential part of any urban landscape. It is critical not just from an environmental point of view, but studies have shown that it is equally important from a social and mental health perspective. Many scientific studies have clearly shown that there is a direct relationship between benefits to public health and the availability of public parks in urban center. Kathmandu is spread over 50Sw Km, with more than two million residents, and has less than 2Sq Km of green public spaces. This is an unhealthy ratio for any urban center, especially one as dense as Kathmandu. This is why I will work to establish a public parks at Ward level, with each Ward responsible for developing and maintaining at least one sizable public park with greeneries and full time maintenance staff, or community voluntary maintenance. The Word Health Organization’s recommendation is a minimum of 9m2 of green space per person, where as 10m2 to 15 m2 is the generally recommended green space per person. Nepal’s municipalities and emerging urban centers must be planned and designed around these parameters, while we also work towards reestablishing the same foundation for existing urban centers. Part of my responsibility is to restore and expand existing parks in Kathmandu to a state where they are safe and healthy for public use. Which is why I am committed to allocating a more organized and zoned out new park developments across the valley. And that special parks and playgrounds need to be made for children, while general public parks need to be developed and maintained. All the parks will have strict use and maintenances guidelines developed in coordination with the local community, with the possibility of a Private Public partnership. Cities need to be spaces where families can provide the best for their children. In Kathmandu, where gardens are becoming rare, air pollution highly dangerous, and the space for children to play outdoors very limited, the need for children’s parks have
never been more important. Which is why time has come for Kathmandu to invest in a series of modern and safe space for children to play and interact with other children from their communities. These play ground, designed and walled off with natural and built air and sound pollution retardants, will be designed to serve as a space where children can come and play and interact on a daily basis, and even more so during holidays. They would be equipped with filtered drinking water fountains and toilets that are kept clean and dry at all times. These spaces would be accessible only to children accompanied by adults, and would be monitored by the local Police. The parks would also be built in partnership with the local community so that there is not only a sense of ownership, but also an added local layer of social protection to those using the parks. At the same time, general public parks need to be developed and maintained with certain rules and regulations that the local community must help enforce in partnership with the local elected representatives’ office. To ensure that the Park initiative is a worthy and successful endeavor, the city will also make an investment in an Urban Parks Department whose only duty will be to make sure that Kathmandu’s parks are maintained and remain a safe and healthy space for the public.
7. Parks as Community Centers: These parks and public spaces should also be aligned with Kathmandu’s Disaster Preparedness Plan, so that the space can serve as a safety zone with a section dedicated to being stocked with basic emergency supplies for rescue and shelter. Its solar power system should also be designed to be able to power basic emergency equipments, and it should include a rainwater harvest tank too. If and where space permits, parks must also be equipped with smaller debris clearing vehicles. With this purpose in mind, it makes it all the more important for there to be as many open public community parks across the city as possible. From a Community Center perspective, developing the park is also an opening to develop other important communal resources in the vicinity, such as a center that houses library, offers public internet access, and maintains a public restroom. Open, public spaces are essential to a democractic society because they provide open spaces for discussion and meeting. They foster discussion and interaction, and thus underpin democratic dialogue at the local level.
8. Women's Space and Safety: Girl and Women’s safety is an important issue and Kathmandu needs to make serious investments to ensure their safety. This will not only include basic actions such as increased vigilance and action from law enforcement agencies, but a broader
conversation and policy discourse is needed to discuss how urban planning and designing can help cities become safer for women, as is being had in other cities around the world. At the same time Kathmandu must strive to become a city that is as comfortably accessible to live in and use the services and infrastructure of for those who are differently-able too. Which is why these issues will all be part of the Kathmandu master-plan. 9. Valley’s Trees: There are multiple reasons for any city to invest in a good tree population. For Kathmandu Valley, two key reasons would include fighting its increasing air pollution, and to mitigate its growing urban heat bubbles in the city. Which is Kathmandu needs to make a dedicated move for multiple Urban Forests. In Kathmandu’s context, its urban forests should be a mix of private and public partnership. The policy to plant two-tress per house that has been introduced in Kathmandu needs to be expanded. While the existing policy allows the replacement of the tree-requisite with potted plants, the policy we need to implement is that the trees are mandatory and those home owners who do not have space for trees should contact their local municipal office and plant their trees in the community’s Urban Forest. This policy should also be studied to explore ho it can be implemented to include not just new homes but homes and properties built before the original policy was set in place. This way, the local government and community would be able to partner in developing and maintaining their community’s Urban Forest. These urban forests will be developed as public parks. Apart from that, a massive tree re-plantation program must be undertaken to replace by at least double if not more the number of old-growth trees that were cut down for the road expansion projects. Lining the streets with trees so that it produces canopy will also be given a priority. Trees selection will be done in consultation with specialists who understand what trees work best for such circumstances. In global real estate practice, properties with trees are also often evaluated as more valuable. This is a practice worth promoting in Kathmandu too. Another crucial benefit of trees is it helps to reduce urban noise pollution. More details of this under the Reducing and Mitigating Sound Pollution section.
10. Water Security: To say Kathmandu has a water crisis every day would be an understatement. Kathmandu’s water crisis is decades old, but it has worsened significantly in the last decade and has become one of the most common and serious problems of every valley residents. Simply put, the city has been expanding and growing in every sense, and the public water distribution and supply has been shrinking as fast. The only reason Kathmandu has not been crippled by thirst is because private companies, most of them illegally, have been supplying about 350 million liters out of 500 million liters needed on a daily basis here in the valley. And this situation too comes with its own set of problems. Our supply pipes are dry, and to make up for it we are exhausting a resource that we have no inventory of. So how can we change this situation? A serious revaluation of the institutions responsible so far needs to be made and actions taken without hesitation to remedy the problems. At the same time, a series of planning and development agendas must be made to ensure Kathmandu a reliable water supply. There is no doubt that the Governance model of Water supply management itself needs a genuine overhaul. At the same time, it is equally important to understand the sources and uses of water for rational and efficient use. At the periphery of the valley the source of water are used very intensively for irrigation. Proper use of river, kulo and khahre for the purpose of irrigation and other use would make water management more sustainable. And maintenance of Kathmandu’s traditional source of water wells and spouts is a matter of urgency. In this day and age, a vast part of the city is able to drink water because our centuries old water spouts still function even though our modern supply system is dry. Unplanned urbanization has interrupted a lot of these sources, but preserving them is a matter of the valley’s water security. 10.1. Groundwater: Recently, Kathmandu also witnessed a dangerous water strike when private water suppliers stopped supplies for several days. About 70% of water used for consumption and irrigation is groundwater. In Kathmandu, about 800 million liters of groundwater is extracted every day, of which 700 million liters are extracted illegally. A total of over 1,000 private tankers supply water to homes, schools, hospitals, business complexes and nursing homes in the valley. They make an average of four trips each during the dry season thereby making 4,000 trips every day. While our dependency on private suppliers is at a desperate level, the sources of water for those suppliers are using remain vastly untested and we don’t know a clear measure of the water available there. Nor do we know how safe that water is. Currently, the Shivpuri Watershed project alone helps ensure 25% of that supply. Kathmandu’s geology dictates that the only way to recharge its groundwater system is from within the valley itself. Experts agree that once groundwater runs out, it is almost impossible to replace it. Meaning, we have to ensure its sustainable use before it runs out. Currently, not only are we taking out water faster than it can recharge, we are also blocking or disturbing natural refilling methods.
Experts have clearly stated that Kathmandu should develop Nagarkot, Chadragiri and Phulchowki hills as watersheds for the valley in order to replicate the significant ecological services that been provided by Shivpuri for the last 25 years. This is the most immediate and urgent water security measure Kathmandu can take at a policy and implementation level. The Ministry of Finance should also consult with relevant agencies to ensure all of Nepal’s Municipalities develop groundwater recharge mechanisms to sustainable manage the groundwater extraction by the residents of the municipalities. Further, it should find ways to subsidize private residents who want to install rainwaterharvesting systems in their homes under the condition that the rainwater harvesting system also includes a component to recharge the Municipality’s groundwater levels. Another policy step that needs to be taken is industrial groundwater users, such as hotels and other large businesses and industries, must acquire a license to extract and use a defined amount of groundwater. Part of the license acquiring process will need the applicant to install an approved groundwater recharge mechanism. 10.2. River Water: Without a doubt, Melamchi remains an important part of Kathmandu valley’s water supply. But it is already a quarter century behind schedule. Kathmandu cannot wait any longer, and Kathmandu’s policymakers must do everything within their means to ensure that it is completed on time. If this project is completed, it would take a huge pressure off our groundwater resources and also cut the market for illegal water suppliers who do not maintain any quality or safety standards. However, there is a broad consensus amongst planners and experts that even if Melamchi was to start working as planned, it would still leave a large amount of Kathmandu’s daily water demand unmet. And so, with, and even more so without Melamchi, there is all the more reasons for Kathmadnu to invest in research and development of other smaller sources of drinking water from around the and outside the valley. And at the same time to integrate rainwater harvesting in all new homes as progressively retro-fit older ones to meet their daily water needs. Restoring the health of our rivers is also a critical part of our water security interest. For this we will need to enforce all the plans that have already been designed and also look into making other effective investments at a policy and resource level. For example. Bisnumati river serves as a source of drinking and irrigation water as well for cultural rituals in the valley. Yet, modern pressures on the valley have turned it into an open sewer in the last 30 years. One of the critical elements in that will be to manage our sewage system so that it does not remain a real source of pollutants for our rivers. It will also be important to ensure all the water treatment plants are working as effectively as they are designed to, and upgrading the technology if necessary. 10.3. Rainwater: Rainwater harvesting must become a fundamental part of buildings in Kathmandu. It is the most accessible source of water in the valley, and must be used as efficiently
and productively as possible for the sake of both property owners and users, as well as the valley’s infrastructure. Instead of letting the rain run-off into our sewers, often causing streets to flood, we can use it for our daily needs. It is proven, both in history, and in modern times, that rainwater harvesting is an excellent way for Kathmandu to deal with its water needs. And it must be incorporated into our general building codes, as outlined in various parts in this document and more specifically under the heading Infrastructure Codes. 10.4. Infrastructure: Our drinking water infrastructure also is need of a dire restructuring and modern upgrade. There are countless cases of homes that have been given water connections with no water supply. In consultation with the relevant bodies, program such as these will need to be expedited. A combination of independent water sources and a modern municipal or federal water infrastructure is a basic for any society, let alone a valley as populous as Kathmandu. So while the supply sources need to be developed and sustainably managed from multiple sources, the distribution system needs to be developed simultaneously, also from a general security perspective. It is not rational or safe in any way or form to have a city of more than 3 million people with a crumbling and in several cases defunct water supply system.
11. Food Security: As Kathmandu’s population has swollen in the last two decades, its food production has decreased drastically with rapid urbanization taking place. That pace continues at a rapid rate today too. Yet, if we fail to address the valley’s food and water security today, we would be doing great injustice to its inhabitants for generations to come. And even those living in the valley today would find themselves in serious jeopardy. The valley’s food security is often tested by simple weather events, when the roads and highways leading into Kathmandu are blocked by landslides. Or sometimes when political strikes force vehicle movements to stop. Considering high population of Kathmandu and its daily needs, the valley must find ways to ensure that there is a significant food production base that is maintained within the valley so that it can minimize the risks posed by unforeseen causes that lead to disruption of food supply from outside to inside the valley. Not only that, there has also been a major crisis in public health with farmers using chemical fertilizers and pesticides on their crops for the sake of immediate high value they might get. Food Security must in Kathmandu’s context not only include the actual production of food supplies within the valley, but also ensure that is done so in a safe and nutritious manner that does not pollute the farmer or the consumer, or the earth and water of Kathmandu. 11.1. Urban Farming: Kathmandu must steadily move towards various models of urban farming. Some of these will be new ideas, others may simply be better managing or scaling up ideas
that are already in practice. Rooftop Farming is one such example. This needs to be more organized both in practice and policy. While some small-scale pilots have been carried out already, we need to think of other ways in which to make rooftop farming in Kathmandu more practical. One important step will be to ensure that new buildings being built in the city are designed in a way that can support a measured amount of rooftop farming. But Roof Top farming is just one of ways in which to revitalize our valley’s agroheritage and food security needs. Kathmandu also needs significant land zoning policies. Too much of the valley’s most productive farmlands have been converted into brick factories. The soil that is naturally best fit to feed us is being rapidly converted into construction material. At the same time, there are countless rice and vegetable fields across the valley with extremely close proximity to brick kiln chimneys. And this is but a single, if a critical, example of why land zoning has become critical in Kathmandu valley for its food security. There also needs to be a mechanism developed by which a lot of public land and private fallow land can be developed into farmlands through various working modalities, be it private-public partnerships or cooperatives. But converting all of the land back to agriculture is not the answer. We must have a reasonable land use policy, and a diversification of land use inside the city. Another way to meet both our river ecology restoration and food security needs is to establish urban farms along our riversides. Such an initiative could be under a public private partnership or a co-operative model. Considering the countless variables that already affects the food supply into Kathmandu valley, and the unforeseeable circumstances that may arise in the future, working towards the valley’s food security cannot be treated as a light issues. Overall, there are two approaches that we will need to take. The first approach is to produce and consume responsibly inside the valley itself. The second approach is to secure the sources of production that are outside of the valley. In our case, this will mean strengthening transportation in and out of our city to major agricultural production centers. And also ensuring agriculture in those source regions are done sustainably. 12. Energy and Carbon-Efficient Built Environment: Kathmandu will continue to grow its built environment for some time to come, and that makes it incredibly important to ensure that the city we are building now, and in the future, is sustainable in its design element, and the materials that make its structure too. Simple things such as lighting and heating must be as efficiently built into the structure as possible through good architectural practices. At the same time, Kathmandu also will need to enforce a strict energy efficient code not just for its built environment but also its fuel and energy consuming machines and devices.
On built environment, the city should move towards subsidizing concrete, paint and roofing tiles and other building materials so that they are both produced as sustainably as possible, and their use enhances the city’s quality of life and sustainability. Subsidizing building materials is not a new concept in Kathmandu where municipalities to help the city have a common traditional façade subsidized traditional brick facades. Now, we must employ similar assistance to help the city retain and regain its livability factor. Some of this work is already being done in the bricks sector, with factories being retrofitted to reduce their pollution drastically. But Kathmandu could take advantage of greater modern technologies that exist to ensure our city is building a city of the future starting with the materials it is using itself. For example, Traditional roof tiles remain a popular roofing material in Kathmandu. They are either mined from the ground or set from concrete or clay – all energy intensive methods. Once installed, they exist to simply protect a building from the elements despite the fact that they spend a large portion of the day absorbing energy from the sun. With this in mind, many companies are now developing solar tiles. Unlike most solar units which are fixed on top of existing roofing, solar tiles are fully integrated into the building, protecting it from the weather and generating power for its inhabitants. It is also equally important to emphasize and enforce that the building materials are Clean sourced, by companies who have updated Environment Impact Assessments for the work they are doing. And the Government must be prepared to help much of our construction material industry make that important sustainable transition, both technically and fiscally. This may be particularly important for the most widely used material, concrete, which is attributed to 5% of human caused carbon emission annually globally. Today, there are technologies and methods that make it possible to reduce CO2 emissions in the process of making concrete by altering a raw-materials used, and also concrete that more pro-actively breaks down or absorbs the CO2 around it. But it is not just the CO2 levels that needs to be dealt with. Nitrogen Oxide is also a major pollutant and a threat to public health. Today, there are already building paints that have been developed in a way which helps it to break down the Nitrogen Oxide from the area. Painting 11 square feet surface with this paint can absorb as much pollution as a full-grown tree. This is an existing technology that needs to be used in Kathmandu to fight pollution, especially the winter smog that is associated with extreme public health threats. It is important to push that all public buildings in Kathmandu are painted with paint that have this property. Walls along the main roads, schools, hospitals, would also be a critical infrastructure to paint. Another construction model that will be given priority is to use paper-based insulations when constructing buildings. Made from recycled newspapers and cardboard, paper-based insulation is a superior alternative to chemical foams. Both insect resistant and fire-retardant thanks to the inclusion of borax, boric acid, and
calcium carbonate (all completely natural materials that have no associations with health problems), paper insulation can be blown into cavity walls, filling every crack and creating an almost draft-free space. This also helps the building become over all more energy efficient. There are other models and materials that can ensure our built structures of the future will be better to live and work in for our communities as well as the planet. Many of them are already in production and use locally, and only need help to be adopted more widely. Many of them will need to be mandated, and subsidized for users and manufacturers. And it is an avenue that I fully intend to explore and expand upon. These policies will be effective and beneficial to kathmandu’s residents when implemented in combination with each other, to make a shift that is long over due for the valley. And it could serve as a model for the many towns and villages across Nepal that is rapidly urbanizing. At a time when we are adding exponentially to our built environment and our natural environment is most vulnerable, this shift towards sustainability is not an option, but rather a need.
13. Infrastructure Codes: There are some things that need to be established as basic standards and benchmarks for Kathmandu to develop as a sustainable city of the future with a high quality of life, and a model that other parts of Nepal, in whatever model it maybe, can learn from. 13.1 Certification for Building Codes: Building codes based on integration of mechanisms such as waste to energy, rainwater harvesting, eco-infrastructure, must all be included in a certification program as part of the Kathmandu master plan designed for implementation at the nearest possible future date in 2014. Financial institutions financing such new building projects must meet the certification requirements the same way they do any other basic regulations needed to get a building permit. Any building failing to meet these requirements would be forced to lose their financing, while the financial institution itself would have to bear heavy penalty for failing to do its due diligence before financing the project. Essentially, this newly established certification process must mean that the building meets the basic pre-requisites and codes as set in the new Kathmandu master-plans. 13.2 Building Codes: The valley needs to update and develop a strict building code that addresses various issues and mandates some initiatives as a pre-requisite for all new buildings, at the same time develop a way for existing buildings to adopt much of those mandates. While a lot of it has been covered in sections above, it is important to view homes and buildings being built in the valley not as elements that will challenge and disrupt the natural environment but rather something that can exist as sustainably as possible, in the process making live safer and healthier.
Therefore, along with other standards, buildings codes must help make Kathmandu’s buildings as food, water, and energy secure as possible, and built with disaster resilience and preparedness in mind. The way homes and commercial properties are designed are integral to the kind of pressures that the city’s basic infrastructure – such as drainage system, electrical grid – faces. Which is why a standard must be established and implemented as an integrated approach to making Kathmandu a more managed city where the quality of life of its residents are improved. Many of these standards have been discussed in the chapters above. A minimum of 25% of the home’s energy needs should be met through its own renewable energy installation, and the rainwater harvest infrastructure should be designed of a scale that is the similar, if not the same, as the property’s original main water tank. Homes should now be designed to also be the producer of its car’s fuel – electricity. For Commercial properties, at least 75% of their energy consumption must be renewable, designed to mitigate the use of diesel generators as much possible, and to be independent of the grid to a great extent too. Details of how this are outlined in section Urban Energy Security. As stated earlier, the Building Codes must be strictly enforced for all new developments with incentives put in place for developers and homeowners. For the greatest impact, the date for implementation should be earliest possible, perhaps 2014. This will ensure that all new properties being developed will immediately reduce projected pressure on the valley, and in the medium and long term greatly help the finances of the property owners. At the same time, these codes will also have to be retroactively implemented for properties that were built pre-2014. 13.4. Government Building Codes: Government buildings must be developed as fully rainwater harvest sufficient and renewable energy powered. In fact, when space allows, they must be built with the kind of rainwater harvest and renewable energy producing capacity to help the local community around it. Cut-off dates for new buildings, and retrofits, should apply stricitly to government buildings too. 13.5. Road Standards: Road quality is key to public health and safety, and directly linked with out economy and tourism too. While we have already engaged in a valley wide road widening project without following some due process, such as an Environment Impact Assessment, it is important that moving forward we must not only have to rectify past mistakes but work in a way where we get it right the first time. Today there are new methods and technologies that exist in road construction that is not only eco-friendly and energy efficient, but also more cost and time efficient. These technologies and material help to reduce rainwater run-offs, which means our sewer systems will not be overwhelmed in monsoons.
To build roads with a better and new standards means to help the local ecology on which it is being built, to help the local economy around which it is being built, and to help the public who use the road. Our current road building methods and technologies have not been upgraded in decades, costing us time, money, health and environment. Implementing a road standard will help change this. It is also not just about road construction process and materials that need to be standardized, but also the model. We cannot simply build roads to drive on. Design elements must incorporate roads that shares its space with a living city. Greenbelts on both sides, for example, should be mandatory. Where not possible, other kinds of green fencing and awnings must be incorporated. Roads cannot be designed with only motor vehicles in mind, but rather as motor vehicles being one of the many users of the road. This means, roads must be built in a way that is safe for cyclists and pedestrians, and friendly for the disabled. And it must incorporate maintenance schedules and budgets. As part of Roadwork, I will also emphasize coordination between various city departments so that the road is not disrupted at various times for different municipal or city maintenance needs. A strict coordination must be developed so that all the underground work that needs to be done are done as closely and simultaneously as possible so that the same roads are not being constantly dug up and re-built for different needs. 13.6. Road Plans: Quality and sustainability of roads aside, the Kathmandu master plan must also be inclusive in what it is able to offer to make mobility in all forms as easy and accessible as possible for anyone in Kathmandu. This includes considering the feasibility of bigger projects such as flyovers and subways, but most important ensuring the Kathmandu will not be developed as an urban center designed for private vehicles and motor vehicles as a primary source of commute. In cases where this may have been done, it must be slowly undone to make Kathmandu an inclusive city for mobility of all forms, with an emphasis on organized mass transit and non-fossil fuel dependent vehicles. Details of other ways in achieving this goal has been discussed in section (1.3) 13.7. Street Lighting Street lighting is key to not just for every day personal and traffic safety, but also for emergency situations. This is why something as simple as street lighting will be a key part of my agenda in developing our urban centers. And to ensure that we light up our streets sustainably, I will work to make solar powered street lights the norm in Nepal. 13.8. Airport: An international airport is one of the most critical infrastructures of any country. Nepal has one international airport, but the last few years have shown it is in desperate need to upgrade and maintenance. Kathmandu is one of the world’s top most earthquake vulnerable cities. Experts have made it clear that our airport will not be able to handle a major quake. Fortunately, there is already considerable amount of work done in the drafting of proposal and plans to upgrade our airport and make it
more natural disaster prepared. My role, and commitment, will be to make sure that those plans will be expedited.
14. Urban Slums and the Homeless: Urban slums are a complicated and politically sensitive issue in Kathmandu. However, they are also a serious social and public health crisis. Which is why there needs to be a political as well as a social consensus that Kathmandu needs to find an acceptable welfare for those families living in our slums. Their living conditions are not only a threat to themselves, but to the broader community too. At the same time, Katmandu needs to develop homeless shelters and needs to move towards banning homelessness on the streets altogether. Children found to be begging will also be given social welfare assistance by relevant public or private institutions. We need to move towards a solution not just for the city, but for the lives of those living on the streets too. Many cities around the world have dealt with this problem and we should strive to do the same. Both slums and homeless people face similar risks for themselves, and also cause similar risks to others in the community. Physical and sexual abuse, diseases, narcotics are just some of the risks involved. And this is why difficulty and controversy of dealing with the problem should not be valid reasons to avoid solving a pressing problem such as this. 15. Waste Management: There are some updated waste management plans that are currently being set in place for Kathmandu valley, but we all know that more needs to be done. So while I intend to work with existing plans, I intent to strengthen them by introducing a series of actionable work plans and pilot projects. There are about 100,000 households in the country’s only metropolis, generating around 350 metric tonnes of waste every day. KMC spends more than Rs 300 million annually to dispose waste at the landfill site, instead of recycling and reusing it for income generation, or finding better use for them. What we need to do is revert back to making sure all households segregate waste by what is biodegradable and what is non0biodegradable as the valley’s residents once used to in the 1990s. Land filling is not a sustainable way of managing our garbage, but composting what is biodegradable would reduce a significant of what we landfill while producing valuable compost. And I look forward to developing ways in which this can be reintroduced to Kathmandu valley both at a domestic as well as a larger community scale.
15.1. Compost Cooperative: Another model that I would like to explore is developing Compost-cooperatives in Wards within my Constituency so that they could try and manage their own respective biodegradable waste as much as possible by producing compost. Kathmandu has a fairly good and growing market for compost, so the program would be able to fund itself while potentially turning a profit which could help to either help the program grow or divert its funds for other community owned projects within the ward. The logical next step would be to to have even a single ward setting up a small agro-cooperative within the same program. This way, the local community would be able to produce their own compost and use it to grow organic seasonal produce that the community members could buy at a competitive price. With an emphasis on farming at home as discussed in section 1, compost need within the community should also be expected to grow. 15.2. Waste to Energy: Another potential that Kathmandu valley must tap into is converting its Waste to Energy. While we have heard about the possibility of converting our waste to electricity for some years, I am proposing that we push our efforts at a domestic level to begin with. The Alternative Energy Promotion Center is already working to make this a reality in the valley and I am committed to helping the program expand as much as possible. Currently, Kathmandu residents, about 26% of the country’s population, consumes 60% of the country’s total LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), a heavy national fiscal burden. With every household that installs a biogas in its kitchen, the valley moves slightly further away from its LPG dependence. Much like the Compost Cooperative, Wards would also make for ideal Waste to Energy pilot sites through one of several models, including public-private partnership or a community based cooperative. 15.3. Recycling and Eco-Packaging: Currently only 10-12 percent of Kathmandu’s paper and plastic waste is estimated to be recycled. This means a vast majority of is being taken to landfill sites, or cluttering our sewage systems and ending up in our river systems. Which is why we need to rethink how we can manage these two waste products. Paper and Plastic bottles carry monetary values. And this value must be leveraged to ensure they end up in recycling centers and not landfill sites. At the same time, the Eco-Friendly Packaging transition must be made for popular commodity products that are currently packaged in plastic. While there can be public incentives and subsidies to help make the transition, it is also important for the companies themselves to see it as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility towards their consumers and community. 15.4. Trash Tanks: It is unclear as to why Kathmandu’s iconic trash tanks have disappeared. However,
keeping in mind our socio-cultural ways and waste management needs, it is important to re-introduce the large garbage tanks to our city’s street corners and community’s junctions. Every part of the city already has a section that the locals have made their default garbage disposal spot. Now we simply need to place garbage tanks there so that they are inside these tanks and not out on the streets. At the same time, Kathmandu also needs a set of trash cans dedicated to mixed waste, plastic waste, and paper waste at least per every two street corners. 15.5. Protecting Our Waste Managers: Dealing with waste management is not only an unpleasant task but also means being exposed to unsanitary and unhygienic conditions. However, our waste managers have been working for years without proper equipments and protective wears. Which is why I want to propose immediately ensuring our waste managers are given the adequate equipments and protective gears needed to do their work without putting themselves in danger or at unnecessary risks. 15.6. Modernizing Our Waste Collection: Currently, our tricycle based waste collection carts are cumbersome. And not easy to manage for our waste collectors. It is time to upgrade our waste collection methods and use enclosed automated vehicles designed for waste management. Today, cities can purchase even electric vehicles designed specifically for urban waste management. These vehicles would be especially useful for Kathmandu’s streets, which tend to be small in places. It would also make the waste management process over all more efficient for everyone involved.
16. Reducing and Mitigating Sound Pollution: Kathmandu’s ambient sound has increasingly become a matter of concern. According to local experts, the standard the standard sound level is 85 dB (A) for busy city areas, but Kathmandu exceeds that limit and reaches up to 120 dB (A), which is considered a dangerous level. Which is why the pre-dominant sound of motored vehicles and their horns need to be controlled urgently to improve the quality of life in Kathmandu. Apart from affecting the locals, the traffic noise pollution is also one of the most negative experiences for tourists who are here. There are several ways to address this problem. Trees and plants can play a role in helping to quiet areas in cities and towns by softening the urban environment and reducing noise. Researchers have found that roofs with vegetation in particular have the potential to significantly reduce road traffic noise. Greening roofs and walls with materials suitable for growing plants softens the urban environment keeping sound levels low, whereas hard, man-made structures tend to amplify traffic noise. A more direct approach must also be taken at the very source of this noise pollution. It is important to begin a process in which all motored vehicle distributors and resellers are required to maintain a very specific and revised level to decibel for their horns. Mandating this level means ensuring that vehicle horns can only be loud to a
certain pre-determined level. Anyone found to be exceeding this level will have to face a penalty, which should be increased significantly from the current fee of Rs.25 to Rs.200, and combined with new penalties. Core city areas must also be absolutely maintained as minimal horn or no-horn zones, and its violations must face a severe traffic penalty. Another way to reduce noise pollution at the source itself is to help the city transition a significant number of its vehicles from traditional engines to Electric powered. Electric Vehicles have many benefits for the public health and national economy, and an added benefit is that the engines of these vehicles are extremely quit, especially when compared to traditional engines. If a large part of our traffic were made up of electric vehicles, it would significantly reduce our urban noise pollution. More details on how to make EVs more feasible for Kathmanu has been discussed in the Sustainable Urban Mobility section. Currently, a major traffic problem includes drivers who speed their vehicles and use the loud horn to clear the way. With quieter horns, there is also a possibility that it could help cause a behavioral change amongst drivers, forcing them to become more careful and considerate, and making our streets safer.
17. Urban Wildlife and Animal Management: Every year, Kathmandu valley sees several violent and dangerous interactions with leopards. And often, they are violent interactions between the animal and people. Even when the animal is rescued, there is a problem of the void of space to rehabilitate the rescued animal in. Invest in wildlife management to reduce Human Wildlife Conflict in the valley for the safety of both the animal and humans. It is also important to respect the valley as a shared ecology, and not just an urban space for people. The Animal Rescue team could use more resources and manpower so that they are able to respond urgently. Like the general security forces, the Animal Rescue team too should be available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. At the same time, a rehabilitation center is needed not just for rescued wildlife that cannot be accommodated in the zoo, but also for rescued animals in general, most commonly aged cows, bulls, and bull calves. Using our reclaimed public spaces (section 1.4.1 Public Land Utilization) will be ideal to accommodate such needs. Working to better manage urban wildlife and animals will also need better coordination with our other public agencies that are mandated to work with not just wildlife but also disease outbreaks.
18. Traffic Police Benefits: Kathamndu’s Traffic police officers are exposed to a daily dose of extremely dangerous air pollutants. Yet they work with little or no protective measures and have no health benefits. Most of these young officers will have developed serious health problems because of air pollution by the time they are in their 30s or 40s. Which is why I would also like to work with Kathmandu’s Parliamentarians to come up with a solution to ensure our traffic officers have access to professional grade air pollution masks, breathalyzers, and eye protection gear at all times.
19. Kathmandu Tourism: Despite all our challenges, Kathmandu remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It also remains a favorite city for the founders of the globally influential tourist information media house Lonely Planet. But much of Kathmandu’s goodwill is based on its legacy more than the city as it exists today. Today, Kathmandu has lost much of its charm for tourists, and remains more a transit hub for other Nepal destinations since the international airport is here. Anything we do to make the lives of locals better helps to make the city a better tourist destination. And the more popular Kathmandu is in the tourism industry, the better it is for Kathmandu’s brand and economy. According to Nepal Tourism Board, in 2012 about 803,092 tourists arrived in Nepal. Their average length of stay was 12.16 days, the lowest since 2010, but better than most years in the last decade. Currently, most tourists leave only a few days in Kathmandu as most of their time is designed for being spent outside the valley. If we are able to raise that number of their average day by even just a few more days, it will be both good for the coutnry’s tourism sector, but also raises the chances of extended stay in Kathmandu. But we need to do some serious work in order to make Kathamndu a modern travel destination, with its old world charms and heritage. For several months every year, thousands of tourists navigate their way around Thamel dodging puddles in the dark. This is not a conducive environment for a tourist economy or experience. Which is why basic things such as the streets of Thamel must be made as tourist friendly as possible, even if this means finding a public-private partnership to make sure the streets there are always well lit, and have no pot-holes at any time. The traffic and sound pollution of Thamel also needs to be better managed. If traffic is to be allowed inside Thamel, it should at least be declared a horn-free zone, where the rule is strictly enforced. And there needs to be strict speed limits too, with the pedestrians always being ensured the right of way. Similar rules need to be established for other popular tourist destinations and sites around the city, including the Durbar Square.
If Traffic inside Basantapur Durbar Square area cannot be stopped altogether, it must then be managed better, including again, speed and noise limits. When people travel thousands of miles and spend thousands of dollars to come experience our ancient heritage, we need to make sure that experience is not ruined by loud and busy traffic. Managing that would benefit the locals even more. In the course of making the city more tourist friendly, our location maps and signs need to be updated and made clearer recognizing the fact that Kathmandu may be Nepal’s capital but the people signs will be used also by the hundreds of thousands of tourists who come to the valley. With better-managed traffic, and street development as outlined in the section Restoring Air Quality, our streets would be safer and healthier not just for locals but also the tourists. This means they would walk through our city a lot more, which increases foot-traffic to a lot more local businesses. This also means the touristbicycle rental would receive a big assistance as more tourists would be willing to bike through a city without having to worry as much about traffic navigation and pollution and dust. Another area that Kathmandu could invest in to expand its tourism sector is to increase Homestays. Currently only 3 Registered homestay managements are registered in in Kathmandu and 2 in Lalitpur. Informally, there are more for sure. We need to have all the ones registered and operating formally so it helps the economy. And in return, they should also get some assistance and incentive. For both districts, registered Community Homestay managements are recorded as zero. This is opportunity loss. There is a good market for tourists wanting to stay in community managed homestays, particularly in the Patan, Bhaktrapur and other culturally rich areas. There is an urgent need to ensure the preservation and management of our UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which is a big international branding assistance for Nepal. Kathmandu cannot compromise with its World Heritage Sites, and whatever stern action needs to be taken to ensure its preservation should be taken as per the law. Apart from these sites, the valley also needs to develop and promote new destinations. These destinations shouldn’t just be the traditional cultural and religious sites, but also contemporary and new activities and locations related to arts, music, museums, annual events and more. Art tourism is a major international economy in itself, and one that Nepal, or Kathmandu, has largely not tapped into yet. 19.1. Innovation and Academic Tourism: One sector of tourism that Nepal could formalize and invest in even further is Academic Tourism. We are already one of the most popular countries for academic research. And new issues and technologies, and interest in our region of the world, is increasing interest ever more globally. The valley needs to recognize that it has the potential to be recognized as a major international hub for academics and a wellplanned public-private partnership could benefit all the sectors involved. It would also
go a long way to help establish global innovation that is happening and it’s future potential here in Nepal. 19.2. Youth and Tourism Development Through Sports: Sports must be reintroduced to the life in Kathmandu unlike before. Today, there are entire research departments in cities and universities around the world studying the social benefits of youth engaged in sports in urban areas. Not only do investments in sports have a generally positive impact in communities, especially amongst the youth, it will also help to take Katmandu to becoming a major sporting destination. And in that regard, the city must also work towards establishing of a new state of the art sporting facility that can be home to various regional and international sporting events. Based out of that new facility, Nepal could also take advantage of its climate and terrain to develop international training centers for various athletics. This would be beneficial both to our sporting community but a thriving sports tourism would also be a boost to our national economy. 19.3. Multi-Cultural Kathmandu: What truly makes any city rich is its cultural heritage. And Kathmandu is a treasure trove of a multi-cultural heritage that dates back centuries. Which is why, I want to ensure the valley also promotes and preserves this mixed cultural heritage, be it religious or architectural. At the same time, I will also ensure Kathmandu remains an inclusive valley, not just culturally, but also socio-economically.
20. Bipartisan Action and Public Participation Mechanism: Let us be honest, the real serious problem with our development models and unplanned urbanization is not just political instability, as often cited. It is the result of a dangerous cocktail of outright lack of political interest in development issues and political patronage to violations of laws and regulations. I truly believe that the road map I have charted in this document, the foundation for my Kathmandu master plan, can truly transform Kathmandu’s socio-economic conditions, and the quality of life, and take us to a much needed sustainable model before things get worse. If we can start taking actions now, and if we have a list of actions that we can take, there is no reason or excuse to delay taking them. But what I am clear about is that not a single one of these ideas can transpire without a strong cross-party bipartisan effort and commitment. In the last Parliament, I individually initiated several cross-party commitments and proposals. Because those ideas were generally neutral with no political interest of any single party, I was able to convince fellow Parliamentarians to sign on to them. It was I who introduced the proposal to stop enlisting children below the age of 18 in student unions, and to not engage in Nepal Bandhs. Both proposals won support in the Parliament. But I also learned in the last Parliament that sometimes even if you get proposals agreed upon by various Parliamentarians from different parties, it may
not be endorsed by the cabinet. This must change, and that change can only come from with public participation. The new Parliament must create new forums and use existing ones, such as Parliamentary Committees, to create a platform on which the role of public intellectuals, experts, and communities and the general public, finds real space and role in policy formulation and implementation. These platforms will also serve as an important pressure mechanism for policy makers whose reluctance maybe a result of party politics more than public interest. If there is a clear path on how to start making our air healthy again, how to ensure better water supply in the valley, how to make the city safer for women and children and more friendly for the differently-abled, and if the public wants to make sure those actions take place, then the public must make that clear to their representatives. In the last Parliament, I engaged many public intellectuals in the Natural Resources and Means Committee, so I know how effective public participation can be to policy makers. The next Parliament needs even greater public participation to make that process stronger and more meaningful with clear action plans for real outcomes. 21. Public Services: As a representative from Kathmandu, I want to make an example and continue to work towards improving public services. I have long been a steward of public hospitals. As tax paying residents of Kathmandu, the public services available should be uncompromised. Which is why I plan to continue working towards making make essential services like hospitals, education a priority. Consumer Rights is also a serious concern. What Katmandu’s consumers are able to access is directly linked to their quality of life issues, an element that as I’ve made clear needs drastic improvement. Which is why it will also be important for local representatives to be pro-active and ensure basic commodity goods are strictly regulated in quality, prices and suppy. It is also essential to ensure that essential commodities of good quality are accessible across the board and not confined to a certain higher economic demography. 22. Urban Security: As Kathmandu develops, we will need to keep in mind rising crime rates. We are all familiar with how unsafe Kathmandu feels compared to even ten years ago. This is a common occurrence as cities develop. However, it is not automatic. There are ways to keep our neighborhoods safe through partnerships and dialogue between local residents and the metropolitan police. Public safety will be an important focus of providing public services. We must make our neighborhoods safe for our children, and the elderly even at night. And we must make sure that we can feel confident leaving our homes empty during the day. There is a trend that local Police depots no longer maintain land-line phones, and one needs to call the cell phone of the police officers assigned to there. This is a serious problem. Even if you personally happen to have stored a local police officers phone
number, the officer will only be in stationed at that beat temporarily, and may not be on duty at the time of need. There is also a technical issue with some cell phone service providers not linking callers correctly to the Police when using the emergency #100 hotline. Keeping these basic challenges in mind, I will work to explore the restoration of at least one permanent phone service, be it cellular or land-land, at every police beat. This way, locals from the area will only need to know one number to contact whichever officer may be on duty at the time. Additionally, phone service providers must find a way for their service users access our three-digit emergency lines. 23. Strengthening Institutions and International Secretariats based in Kathmandu I have always been worked to ensure our public institutions are strengthened. They are important hubs of knowledge and resources that helps to get done the kind of we work we want done for the public good. It is why I was relentless in using the Parliament to work on policy issues as pro-actively as possible. And there is no doubt I will continue this work, with even greater vigor. At the same time, Kathmandu is home to several important working Secretariats for international regions and scope of work. It is critical to ensure that they work effectively and Kathmandu remains a logical base for those Secretariats. It gives Nepal and Kathmandu an important diplomatic and development role in a regional or global platform, often dealing with complex issues. One critical and relatively new secretariat is South Asian Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN). While Nepal itself has become a transit hub for international smuggling rings, Kathmandu’s role as a transit point has also become active. We have seen this in the smuggling of Red Sandalwood to Red Panda. It has been established in Nepal and abroad that groups engaging in illegal trade of wildlife or flora and fauna are often tied to and engaged with the smuggling of other kinds, including human trafficking. Proliferating smuggling syndicates also has direct national and financial security implications for us. As an MP who called for many hearings through the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Means, as well worked extensively on issues related to forest and conservation, and smuggling, I want to make sure we strengthen Secretariats like SAWEN so that both Kathmandu and Nepal are able to effectively fight back environment crimes and other illegal trades as much as possible. Our work and role in these Secretariats give us the unique opportunity to work on, and for, local-global issues with leadership. We must take that lead and build on it. 24. Implementation and Financing Much of the proposals in this document are condensed versions of draft working plans. And all of them are simply starting points for actionable policies. The start of the implementation period is planned from 2014. Most of the proposals in this
document get into some specifics about why and how to implement them. However, I fully intend to hold further discussions with experts on how to refine the ideas further particularly in their technical specifications. The reason I am not as concerned with the ‘feasibility’ of the capital cost that these proposals might require is because what is truly unfeasible is in fact inaction and status quo on these pressing issues. The proposals here in this document need to be implemented in the best form possible. In terms of working modality, I remain convinced that a public-private partnership and cooperatives may be best models to implement a vast majority of the ideas in this document. Having said that, some parts of it may simply require a larger leadership from the private sector, but in close coordination with the public partner. As far as financing the implementation of these policies go, Kathmandu is at the heart of Nepal’s economy and has credit rating worthiness. A Nepal Rastra Bank study recently noted that one-third of the country’s economic activities are concentrated in the valley. Revenue collection in the three districts in the valley (Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur) has come to about Rs 123.67 billion (43 percent of the national total). Kathmandu alone has collected over Rs.72 billion Inland Revenue. If governance is efficient, there is enough revenue, and public-private and community based partnership opportunities and interests, to implement and finance much of these plans. At the same time, Kathmandu also qualifies for various international funds designed to help cities and urban centers become climate resilient and adopt a model of sustainable development. I intend to seek out, apply for, and use such available funds so that Kathmandu can benefit. The proposals in this document may cost short or medium term expenditures, but they are only a small capital investment in Kathmandu’s immediate and longterm sustainable future. For a future of any other kind is an alternative we cannot afford. Please note: This document includes quotes and paraphrases, and data from various national and international publications and research papers. We apologize that we have not cited them but we would like to thank them for their valuable research, and would be happy to credit them publicly if they reach out to us.
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