Valley metros wear facelift due to beautification drives

Kathmandu, Mar. 3: While driving or walking along the main roads of two metropolises – Kathmandu and Lalitpur – one gets enthralled these days thanks to the beautification drives launched by the two local levels in recent years.

If one walks from New Baneshwor to Maitighar in Kathmandu or Balkumari to Gwarko or Jawalakhel to Kupondole in the day time, they can enjoy the beautiful gardens grown in the islands with flowers like Lalupate blooming. More impressive is the eight-lane New Baneshwor-Maitighar road section. 

The beautification process in the New Baneshwor-Maitighar that began during the 14th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in November 2014 has now reached its peak. The arch bridge of Bijuli Bazaar decorated with colourful flowers and lights had added more beauty to this road section. In the night, groups of youth can be seen taking photographs in the first arch bridge of Kathmandu.

Of course, this particular road offers more mesmerizing scene in the night times with glittering lights everywhere on the solar light poles standing on either side of the driving lane up to Tinkune and the swinging plants below the tall poles.  The scenes along the Dhobikhola corridor from Nilo Pul in Kapan to Bijuli Bazzar are attractive because of the plants growing on either bank of the Dhobikhola. Only the river bed is an eyesore along the long corridor. 

The situation is no different in Lalitpur.  Moreover, Lalitpur Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan has officially announced his plans to fix street lights and plant trees in the cities. 

The impressive change in the looks of the two cities has proved that leadership can make a big change in a short span of time.

The mayors of the two metropolises have given priority to beautify the cities. They have formulated plans and acted accordingly. 

For this, the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) presented a budget of Rs. 25.54 billion for the fiscal year 2023/24. It announced the three-year municipal pride project ‘Beautiful Metropolis’ and golden projects ‘Dust-Free Kathmandu’ and ‘Bright City, My City’, among others. The three projects have been allotted a budget of Rs. 250 million, Rs. 1 billion and Rs. 300 million respectively.

Nabin Manandhar, Spokesperson at the KMC, said that the metropolis had highly prioritised keeping the environment of the metropolis clean, green and pollution-free by launching various beautification projects. To make the city beautiful and safe, they are currently focused on maintaining greenery on the riversides by planting trees and constructing parks, installing streetlights and CCTV cameras. 

The metropolis has installed 1,026 smart street lights to maintain traffic, human movement, peace and social security at night. In cooperation with the Nepal Electricity Authority and the Road Department, 318 lights have been installed in Maharajgunj-Lainchaur-Jamal section, 363 in Maharajgunj Police Training Centre-Baluwatar-Naxal to Maitighar Mandala, 181 from Kamalpokhari to Gaushala, 76 lamps in Tripureshwor-Thapathali-Maitighar Mandla and 99 in Chabahil-Baudha road section.

Taking to The Rising Nepal, Spokesperson Manandhar said that the metropolis started a campaign ‘Let’s talk about air’ to increase community participation and awareness in tackling air pollution in the Valley. Under the Handigaun master plan, for environmental improvement, vehicular movements have been banned on the road section passing through Dathu Tol Krishna Mandir, Dawli Chowk to Kotal Tole Bhawrakun in Handigaun every Saturday for the past five months, expecting the campaign to continue in the future as well.

The KMC has banned the import, storage and sale of polythene bags, artificial flowers and other plastic materials of less than 40 microns in thickness to reduce the waste generated due to plastic products and to protect the environment. It started a drive to keep 1,950 sets of garbage bins to collect the degradable and non-degradable waste to separate the waste at the place of production and manage it separately.

The metropolis also initiated a drive to ensure safety to pedestrians from pet animals and to hold pet owners accountable for their pets by taking actions against those allowing their house dogs and cats to litter in public places. Side by side, it is also working to control the population of street dogs through sterilization campaign. So far, the metropolis has already permanently sterilized more than 4,300 street animals and targets to sterilize 5,800 street dogs by the end of the Fiscal Year 2023/24.

Additionally, the Public Construction Department of the metropolis signed a contract with Nepal Academy of Fine Arts for painting mural arts in designated locations to be completed by mid-June this year. For this, the KMC has allocated a budget of Rs. 5 million. 

According to the department, in the first phase, mural arts and graffiti would be painted on the walls from Maitighar to Babarmahal, Pradarshani Marga, Baneshwor-Minbhawan, outside of the Tribhuvan International Airport and Social Welfare Council. 

The KMC denizens have lauded the steps taken by the metropolis. People are amazed to see busiest market hubs like New Road and Durbar Marga free from parked two- and four-wheelers. All because the metropolis announced a ban on vehicles parking on black-topped roads in these areas.

 Rojina Thapa, a resident of Khusibun, shared joy on being able to exercise freely every morning at a park there. Under the project to construct parks, the metropolis has constructed the park on the riversides from Balaju to Kalimati. 

Thapa, who has been living there for the past 20 years, said that the riversides used to be garbage dumping sites earlier and reeked like anything. “Now, there is a park with fitness equipment, fresh plants and beautiful lights. I like the view,” she added. 

On the other hand, the Lalitpur Metropolitan City (LMC) has announced a budget of Rs. 6.5 billion in the current fiscal year. 

According to Raju Maharjan, Spokesperson at the LMC, the metropolis initiated the creation of smart city hand in hand with preserving environmental aspects to add and enhance its beauty.

The metropolis has focused on greenery, starting a drive for plantation in wards with open spaces and placing flower vases in those with concrete structures. He said, “Many of the local levels start plantation drive and think the job is done after planting trees. But, it needs continuous care and attention for a tree to grow to its full size. The metro has coordinated with ward levels for green projects and will look after planted trees in future.” 

The metro has also made efforts to curtail the encroachment of open spaces by vehicle parking. In Pulchowk, Mangal Bazaar, Jawalakhel and Batuk Bhairav, among other places, the metropolis has put flower vases and installed seating arrangements in places once used to park two- and four-wheelers. 

Additionally, it has focused on the preservation and restoration of its heritages. “Heritage structures are ancient treasures and glory and should be conserved over time. Those structures damaged in the 2015 earthquake are being rapidly constructed,” he said. “Only Temple Taleju in the Patan Durbar Square is under construction and will be completed soon. Meanwhile, we aim to complete the reconstruction of the Rato Machhindranath Temple located 400 metres South of the Durbar Square before the Rato Machhindranath Jatra.”

Similarly, with a Rs. 540 million grants from the Asian Development Bank, LMC has been constructing 2.8 kilometres of modern drainage from Lagankhel to Bagmati. 

LMC has also been managing the wires that hang cluttered from electric poles and affect the beauty of this historic city. It has also formed a committee under Deputy Mayor Manjali Shakya Bajracharya for the same.

Lalitpur also gained prominence for marking a portion of its roads as cycle lanes. The lanes, many of which are shared, except for the ones on the Satdobato-Lagankhel road section, are painted green and are hailed by cyclists inside and outside the city.

As per LMC, it has installed 2,200 smart street lights on three routes, namely, Kupondole to Satdobato via Lagankhel, Hotel Himalaya to Lagankhel via Kwalkhu and Mangal Bazaar, and Pulchowk to Gwarko via Mangal Bazaar. Additionally, it has installed 1,400 lights in the wards outside Ring Road that include the areas of Sunakothi, Bungamati, Khokana, Harisiddhi, Bhaisepati and Dhapakhel. 

The metropolis has also begun work on installing high mast lights at 12 locations inside and outside the Ring Road. These lights are mounted on 16-metre-tall poles and can illuminate 60 to 100 metres of area around them. So far, it has installed 14 high mast lights.

Moreover, to make the city a dust-free zone, the metropolis has been using two broomer vehicles daily. It has also recently brought two water sprinkling vehicles with the purpose of watering flower pots and trees. The metropolis has not only initiated green city drive but also formed 420 women groups to make the drive successful by allocating annual budget. These groups under the metropolis works in various categories such as environment, sanitation, skill development and others. 

The LMC’s multi-faceted approach towards city beautification has helped create a livable, vibrant and environmentally conscious cityscape for its residents and future generations.

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