KATHMANDU, Nov 20: The government is preparing to launch a green Kathmandu initiative in a couple of weeks with the planting of 500 trees along the Koteshwor-Suryabinayak road in a first phase.
Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai had directed the government secretaries two weeks ago to start a long term initiative to make the capital green again following the felling of trees in the course of the still ongoing road widening drive.
Krishna Hari Banskota, secretary at the PM´s office, said that the PM had directed a meeting of high-level officials to start the initiative as soon as possible, most likely in a couple of weeks.
The preparations for launching the green initiative are now proceeding rapidly. “We are very serious about this as the public has been complaining about the increasing dust pollution with the rapid cutting of trees during the road widening. So the PM´s office will coordinate while other ministries implement the initiative to turn Valley roads green,” said Banskota.
Secretaries from the Ministries of Forests and Soil Conservation; Physical Planning and Works; and Urban Development and the commissioner of the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority had a meeting immediately after the meeting with the PM and decided to launch the initiative through coordination among the ministries and municipalities concerned.
According to the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, it has already directed the district forest offices in Kathmandu and Bhaktapur to prepare 500 plants to be planted along the six-lane Koteshwor-Bhaktapur road.
The plants would be between 4 to 6 feet high during planting and they have all been readied at the Department of Forests. “We need to plant trees of that height as it´s very hard to take care of smaller saplings and the trees will be flowering to make the city not only green but also beautiful,” said a high-level official at the Ministry of Forests.
According to Banskota, the next meeting of the secretaries and heads of municipalities will be organized within a couple of days to finalize the date for launching the initiative. The Department of Roads will take care of the trees as roads are its brief but the other ministries will help maintain the greenery.
“We will also deploy caretakers for the trees planted and local communities will be mobilized to act as watchdogs to ensure that the trees grow properly,” Banskota added.
According to the Department of Roads, 75 kilometers of road have been widened in the Valley to date since the campaign kicked off in September but the department said that there had been no plans for planting trees.
“We need to have a long term plan to promote greenery in the Valley as it is slowly turning into a concrete jungle; the campaign will be robust and will continue in future also. It´s not a one-off tree-planting event,” said Banskota.