The steadily increasing population and related solid waste dumping in the rivers, discharge of industrial effluents together with direct discharge of domestic sewage have made the Bagmati River and its tributaries excessively polluted. The river’s capacity to purity itself by means of interaction between biotic and abiotic characteristics of the river has been slowly failing. On the other hand, the Bagmati and its tributaries still occupy a special religious and cultural importance. It is still an important place for rituals. Unfortunately, the structures around the ghats where rituals are performed are rapidly deteriorating. These archaeological and historical sites are in an immediate need for effective protection and management.
A recent study (KAPRIMO, 2007) on water-flow and water quality has indicated a very alarming situation and classified most parts of the rivers within Kathmandu valley excessively polluted. The pollution of these rivers has deeper impacts on overall urban environment and human health. However, experiences from China, shows that it is possible to restore and conserve polluted rivers such as Nanjing Qinhuai River, if there is a will and determination to do so.
The Bagmati River is currently used for different purposes, including: (1) the major sources for municipal, industrial, and irrigation water for Kathmandu Valley; (2) cultural and religious practices; (3) disposal of water borne effluent and deposition of solid waste along the banks; (4) extraction of sand, (5) spaces for public infrastructures e.g. roads and water tanks, and (6) preferred zones for squatters and other encroachments. However, there is a serious lack of planning, regulations, enforcement, and implementation of appropriate and effective programmes. To address the complicated issue of Bagmati conservation, there is need for developing a comprehensive and practical Bagmati Action Plan (BAP) to fill the gap of an updated guiding document to address the key issues.