Plight Of Kathmandu

Uttam Maharjan

 

Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. Being a capital city, it has been made the destination by the people living in other parts of the country. So a large number of people are flocking to the city by being lost in its seeming glitter.

In fact, in the eyes of the people living far from Kathmandu, the city is well-nigh a paradise. But the reality is quite different. When the people land in the city, they get the home-truth that it is not as easy as peeling peas to live a life of comfort. They have to struggle hard, perhaps even harder in their home towns or villages, to earn a living.

 

Melting pot

Kathmandu can be rightly called a melting pot where the people from almost all other districts can be found. With the population ever burgeoning, the city has witnessed anomalies of development here, there and everywhere. As a matter of fact, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the city is a bundle of problems, chaos and haphazard developments.

Kathmandu is a metropolis, the only metropolis in Nepal. But the facilities and amenities available in the city do not indicate that it is worth calling a metropolitan city. What facilities and amenities are the Kathmanduites getting right now? What is the sector that the denizens can feel proud of? How are development works going on in the city? These are some of the questions whose answers can never be copacetic.

The situation of the city has deteriorated to a great extent, especially since the earthquake of last year. The city has almost changed into a dust bowl. There are clouds of dust hovering menacingly over the people. The roads are damaged and full of potholes. In the rainy season, puddles are formed everywhere. So whether in the rainy or dry seasons, it is the people who have to suffer for no fault of theirs.

The roads of the city have been dug haphazardly in the name of laying water pipes, drain pipes or telecommunication cables. After the works, the roads look clumsy, with no layer of pitch at all. And no concerned  body deems it necessary to blacktop them again. Thus even blacktopped roads are turning into dirt roads.

There is no coordination between government bodies as far as construction works are concerned. It often happens that when a stretch of road is blacktopped, it is dug by some other government body. The root of the problem also lies in exhausting the budget. It is not easy to infer that the need for exhausting the budget at any cost is giving rise to haphazard development in the city and elsewhere.

The government is not unaware of what is happening in Kathmandu. The political leaders are also well aware of this. Further, the parliamentarians have their own constituency development funds which can be utilised to develop their constituency. Despite this, neither the government nor the parliamentarians realise that the capital city and other cities need to be developed in a proper way.

The government, on the other hand, enjoys bringing out unrealistic plans for development. The government has recently announced that Kathmandu and some other cities will be developed into smart cities. It is easier said than done. When even  basic infrastructure is lacking in the city, how will it turn into a smart city? The people are chafing under the problems of clean drinking water, sanitation, healthcare, education, transportation and what not. It is easy to talk about anything but translating it into a reality is like a hard nut to crack.

Once, the government talked about constructing flyovers in Kathmandu to ease traffic movement, and  a survey was also conducted. But this has now disappeared into thin air, and the government has remained schtum over it. Rather, the government is talking about introducing metro rails, monorails and other railways, including electric railways, in the country.

In fact, the rulers in the country are always deceiving the people. They bring out a plan, that too a perspective one, that gets aborted sooner or later. The governments have talked about making the country a Singapore or Switzerland even without drawing a sketch of implementing the plan. They tend to talk about such things whimsically. Such hollow utterances will not help the country to transform into a prosperous country.

Coming back to the plight of Kathmandu, the Kathmanduites are finding it difficult to live a life of comfort. The environment of the city is degrading day by day. They are forced to cope with pollution of all kinds, be it air, water or noise. It is, in a sense, ironical to find the capital city in such a sorry state. It is even more ironical to find the government playing Nero’s flute when the city is going through a bad patch.

The government should, therefore, wake up from its slumber and pay adequate attention to making Kathmandu a livable city. One of the major problems besetting the capital city is dust and the pitiable condition of the roads. It is difficult to go out into the open without wearing masks.

 

Tourism industry

Due to the poor drainage, most of the places of the city get waterlogged after a heavy downpour, troubling vehicles and pedestrians alike. In the dry season, the people have to fight their way forward by coping with dust clouds. Such a situation obtaining in the city has also affected the tourism industry. Has the government ever imagined what image of the country the tourists are carrying back to their countries?  

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