Armed with green-ways, public parks and solar-powered street lights, authorities plan to change Kathmandu for good Kathmandu needs to change.
A change from the dreary, sterile cityscape. From the melancholy-inducing onslaught of excesses encouraged by supposed modernity. Haphazard urbanisation has taken over most of the open space around the city. Green patches are being replaced by towering concrete buildings. Roads are choked with vehicles. The air is unbreathable. Toxic sludge flows in rivers. It’s almost dystopian.
Over the years, Kathmandu has witnessed a massive infrastructure development. However, in an effort to add more buildings to accommodate the ever-growing population of the city, there has been a gaping oversight in the environment and the aesthetic fronts. The equation between infrastructural development and healthy living space is lopsided, thanks to the unplanned and arbitrary manner in which the city is being forced to tread the path of development.
Realising the urgent need to make the city beautiful, healthy, and liveable, the authorities have formulated short-term and long-term visions for Kathmandu. And the first thing on the to-do list is greenery.
Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA) has planned to transform Kathmandu into a green city. “Among all the beautification, greenery is the most visible and soothing. Hence our entire present and future focus will be promoting greenery,” says Yogeshwor Prasad Parajuli, development commissioner at the KVDA.
Currently, the KVDA has envisioned transforming various areas and streets of the city with various types of trees, herbaceous, and ornamentals plants. Plantation project is underway along the road stretches, including Maitighar-Tinkune, Thirbam Sadak and Lazimpat. While the greenery in the 3.3 kilometres of Maitighar-Tinkune is going to cost Rs 20 million, the model stretch of 3.2 kilometres of Thirbam Sadak is going to cost the authorities another Rs 20 million. Lainchaur-Shital Niwas-Narayangopal Chowk, Jawalakhel-Patan Hospital, and Satdobato-Hattiban roads will soon witness greenery.
Not just the roads, but authorities also plan to develop open spaces as parks for the locals to relax as part of the city beautification project. “Although very less open spaces exist in the city, they can enhance the city if we build parks,” says Parajuli. “We have to realise that the open spaces are the lungs of the city, and they are the places we have to focus on right now.”
KVDA is planning to give a facelift to the neglected open areas like Narayan Chaur and Kamal Pokhari by turning them into parks. The concept is to restore these areas which hold historical and ecological importance. Narayan Chaur, which is spread over an area of 19 ropanis of land, will also be equipped with rain water harvesting system and fenced to protect it from livestock and street dogs. Similarly, the park to be constructed around Kamal Pokhari will feature eateries and will be equipped with benches for visitors to sit and relax.
The renovation programmes for Narayan Chaur and Kamal Pokhari is going to cost an estimated Rs 20 million.
Other than the greenery project, KVDA also plans to give uniform hue to the buildings located on the main roads. It is purely for aesthetic purpose.
“To bring about a change in the cityscape, uniformity in the sizes and colours is very important,” says Bhaikaji Tiwari, chief at the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Implementation Committee (KVTDIC).
New Baneshowre-Tinkune, Lazimpat road, and Buddhisagar Marga, among others, are some of the roads that have been selected for the paint job.
Of late, the authorities have also focused their attention towards outfitting the major roads in the city with sustainable solar-powered lamps. After the success of Durbarmarg solar street light project, an undertaking dubbed the Kathmandu Ujalyo Karyakram, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City is planning to install solar lamps at New Baneshwor, New Road, and the street surrounding Tundikhel by the end of October. The project is estimated to cost Rs 40 million.
“This is a very efficient way to light up and enhance the beauty of the streets. In a country dealing with acute power cuts, solar is the best feasible option” says KMC Chief Dhana Bahadur Shrestha.
The KMC’s recent city council has announced a budget of over Rs 680 million for the Saarc beautification project. Rs 536 million of the budget will be injected by the government. Solar street lights have also been the priority in the KMC’s fiscal budget that was announced recently. The KMC also plans to call for public private partnership investment for the project.
Similarly, with plans to make the river banks “people friendly”, the government has initiated a project to beautify Dhobikhola corridor. The corridor is set to be furnished with various amenities like efficient lighting and plants to encourage the pedestrians and vehicles to use the corridor regularly. The 11.4 kilometres corridor which interlinks many routes will also be equipped with shades and benches for the public.
“The project is expected to complete within the next few months. It will serve as a template for the beautification of other river areas” says Tiwari.
The total budget allocated for the project is Rs 2.56 billion, of which Rs 780 million has already been spent. This year, the government allocated Rs 300 million, while officials say the project will be needing an additional Rs 100 million.
The major bridges in the city have also received a fresh coat of pant in line with their names that were based on their colours. Even those bridges whose names did not correspond with their hues were renamed based on their new paint.
All these efforts to give the city the much-needed facelift is definitely a good start. But it remains to be seen if the beautification project will add any value to the city. KVTDIC Chief Tiwari is hopeful that it will. “It’s a good start to a beautiful future. Transformation cannot be witnessed overnight. It takes years and even decades to witness the beauty,” he says.