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Kathmandu Today Little More Than A Garbage Dump And Open Sewer

Kathmandu, Nepal's capitla city. Water waste from hundreds of thousands of homes runs untreated into the rivers that criss-cross the Kathmandu valley.
by Staff Writers
Kathmandu (AFP) Jan 26, 2007
Once seen as a Himalayan Shangri La, Nepal's capital city and its surrounding valley is now a smog-shrouded dump with rivers that smell like a toilet, an environmental report has found. "Parks are being destroyed, and the Bagmati river is sacred but now smells like a sewer so nobody wants to take a holy dip," Bidya Banmali Pradhan of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) told AFP.

"You can see the problems very clearly," said Pradhan, whose organization penned the damning report along with the United Nations Environment Programme and Nepal's environment ministry.

The report, released this week, concluded that the environmental damage could harm impoverished Kathmandu's economic future, particularly its key tourist industry.

Pradhan said the once sleepy Kathmandu valley saw its population double between 1996 and 2004, and that the sole foreign-funded waste water treatment plant was not working due to a lack of maintenance.

Water waste from hundreds of thousands of homes runs untreated into the rivers that criss-cross the valley.

Green space in the area, home to two million people, is also disappearing at an alarming rate, the report said.

"If this trend continues there will be no agricultural fields left in this once fertile valley," it warned, calling for the urgent enforcement of urban development rules.

"Implementation and enforcement is lacking. People think they can get away with anything," said Pradhan.

"Tourists feel the pollution from the moment they arrive the airport," he warned.

Kathmandu Valley, one of Nepal's main tourist draws, has seen millions of visitors come and go since the 1960s, when it was famed as the final destination on the "hippy trail" from Europe.

The valley is dotted with stunning, ancient towns and temples and at least seven UNESCO world heritage sites.

The report's authors quizzed 1,702 tourists, and Kathmandu's dismal air quality emerged as the area in which improvement was most needed, the report said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Record Fine For China Factory Over Infamous Songhua Spill
Beijing (AFP) Jan 25, 2007
A Chinese factory has been fined a record one million yuan (128,000 dollars) over an infamous toxic spill which cut off water supplies to millions of people and even reached Russia, state media said Thursday. Jilin Petrochemical, a subsidiary of the Petrochina group in the northeastern province of Jilin, was fined the maximum amount allowed by law, the Beijing Morning Post said.

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