Tue, 23 Jul, 2019

This is Our Capital

By Asmit Ojha

Nowadays, whenever I have to leave my house to go to college, shopping or on a short walk, I feel heavy. It's not because of any heavy work or fear of anyone, it's the fear of the streets. The monsoon has begun, and with it, the flooding of streets has begun too and it has made life of many people of Kathmandu in many areas totally miserable.

Year after year, the lack of proper drainage systems as well as the unplanned and late road construction to finish the allocated budget at the 12th hour in the pre-monsoon season results in every person in Kathmandu going through the hassle of travelling in water-logged streets. The problems that bikers and pedestrians face are unimaginable. As we all know, Kathmandu’s geography creates a monsoon season where it rains like 'cats and dogs'. One has to be prepared anytime and anywhere to face it. And, it's an irony that Kathmandu, being the capital city of Nepal and the only metropolitan city, suffers from these problems even in its major and well-known business areas. According to the meteorological forecasting division, Kathmandu receives nearly 290 mm of rainfall each month, which is above average in all of Nepal. Due to the work of road expansion all over Kathmandu by demolition of walls, existing roads and nearby houses, the condition has gotten even worse this year. Popular areas like Thamel--the tourist hub of Kathmandu, Sinamangal, Mid-baneshwor, Jamal, Kamalpokhari, Putalisadak,  Ason, the business centre, etc. are all being badly hit by stagnant water.

The conditions of the roads right after a heavy downpour is pathetic. To add woe to the water problems, there comes sewage and the dirty drainage from the drainage pipes all over the streets. And, further misery is that there are several bore holes which remain uncovered, ups and downs on the road, speed breakers and other hurdles that no one knows exist on their way. Many of us must have seen people falling from bikes or faced these problems ourselves. Many people have to navigate a street flooded with water up to their waist to reach their homes.

Everybody knows these are not new problems in Kathmandu, yet year after year concerned authorities oversee futile attempts at fixing the problems. Many roads in Kathmandu have been repaired and rebuilt due to the SAARC Summit and Indian PM Narendra Modi's visit last year, but the very first rain in Kathmandu exposed city's poor drainage. It's an irony that authorities claimed the traffic in Kathmandu would not have to wade through water-logged streets in Kathmandu this monsoon season, and yet we are met in the wide streets with all the same old problems.

As long as we all work together and the construction activities continue in an unplanned manner with no future reference, we are going to face the same problems for good. The construction activities must be carried out only after proper scientific and engineering study. The capital city should stand for the pride of whole nation, not as a water-logged, unmanaged and nasty city.

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