New leader Thapa vows to continue Paudyal's legacy
KATHMANDU, Nov 13: Former Urban Development Secretary Kishore Thapa has taken charge of Bagmati cleanup campaign with its leader Leela Mani Paudyal now appointed as the Nepali ambassador to China.
Paudyal, former chief secretary, had successfully led ambitious campaign for over three years since it started in May 19, 2013 when various rivers in Kathmandu Valley were dying due to severe water pollution. Seeing the pathetic condition, Paudyal himself had collaborated with various governmental bodies, civil society organizations and individuals to initiate the river cleanup campaigns.
The Bagmati cleanup campaign, which entered its 183rd week this Saturday, has achieved unprecedented success since its launch. The campaign not just cleaned up Bagmati River, but also other heavily polluted rivers including Bishnumati, Dhobikhola, Sundarijal, and Nakhu, among other rivers in the Valley. Relying mostly on volunteers, the campaign has so far cleaned up about 800 metric tons of solid waste from these rivers.
The former chief secretary handed over the leadership to Thapa as he is set to leave for China on Wednesday. New leader Thapa, who is also a member of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), has been involved in the project since its first day when he was serving as secretary for Urban Development.
Speaking with Republica, Thapa vowed to continue the legacy left behind by the former leader. "Under my leadership, the campaign will retain the basic features of river cleanups. However, it will now focus more on cleaning the source of river pollution instead of focusing only on the cleanups," he said.
Thapa said Paudyal's support to the campaign as its leader and also as the government's chief secretary was highly inspiring. "The campaign would not have reached where it is today without him. We really appreciate his inspirational leadership."
According to Paudyal, one of the most significant achievements of the campaign is the rise in the level of public awareness. "People got loud and clear message about the dangerous impacts of river pollution on health and environment. Raising awareness about negative impacts of water pollution on a nationwide level is one of our significant achievements," he said, adding that the campaign is more about taking own initiation rather than instructing others.
Paudyal further said that the campaign managed to prevent itself from becoming pet project of political parties. "Political parties participated in the campaign, but we were able to prevent promotion of political parties through the campaign."
According to him, about half a million people participated in Kathmandu Valley alone, while over 60,000 joined hands in Pokhara cleanliness campaign organized by them.
Impressed with the campaigns, even locals outside the Kathmandu Valley have begun to clean the rivers in their areas. The turnover of volunteers in cleanliness campaign in Lahan, among other places, has also remained high, he said.
"Although I will no longer lead the campaign, it does not mean that my role is over. The campaign will always have my moral support. And as the ambassador to China, I'll play crucial role to transfer relevant technology, knowledge, and practices from China to Nepal."