Re-drawing the attention of the metropolis, chambers of commerce and administration to save the Sirsia river

Re-drawing the attention of the metropolis, chambers of commerce and administration to save the Sirsia river

July 7, Birgunj. Residents of Birgunj have handed over a letter to the District Administration Office, Birgunj Municipal Corporation and Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In a letter to the stakeholders in the name of ‘Sariswa River and Birgunj Pollution Free Campaign, Birgunj’, it has been requested to make the river pollution free. A team led by Surendra Kurmi, coordinator of the campaign, reached all the three offices and handed over a letter urging them to be responsible for controlling the existing pollution in the river.

The letter draws attention to the fact that the Constitution of Nepal provides for the right of citizens to live in a clean and healthy environment but the people of Birgunj are facing problems due to the pollution caused by industries in the Sirsia River. It has also been pointed out that the District Administration Office, Parsa has formed a pollution monitoring committee of the Sirsia River on December 7, 2008 with the objective of making the Sirsia River pollution free and no action has been taken as per the report submitted by the committee.

The Sirsia River flows through the central part of Birgunj Metropolitan City. The Sirsia River, which flows with pure water from the Ramvan bush of Bara, has turned into a canal till it reaches Birgunj-1 Chhapkaiya. Instead of pure water flowing in the river, black smelling mud flows. Industries including National Leather, Nepal Leather, Sushil Banspati, Arnica Process, Moriam Leather, Trishakti Cement, Vishwakarma Cement, Kalash Cement, Annapurna Vegetables and other industrial effluents from their industries. Have been dumped in the river through Apart from that, small scale industries and dirty water coming out of houses are also making the river polluted and smelly.

Residents of the area have been suffering due to the stench of Hero Buff Meat, Central Forest Mill in Ward No. 27 of Birgunj Metropolitan City. Dogs and foxes that come to eat bones and pieces of meat thrown from the industry have even bitten people. According to local Dipendra Singh Patel, this has made life difficult for the common people of wards 18, 20 and 27.

Patel has complained that no body has shown interest in solving the problem even though they have been suffering for decades. “We have agitated time and time again. We went to the polluting industry in 069 BS and talked. Instead, the administration was called and suppressed. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for talks while on a hunger strike,” he said.

Aquatic life has died due to the existing pollution in the Sirsia River. Fish, frogs and even snakes have disappeared from the river. Engineers claim that the biodiversity of the river has been depleted and the number of skin, heart, cancer and asthma patients has increased in the surrounding areas.

Engineer and LOSPA Birgunj Metropolitan Chairman Om Prakash Sarraf says that the decision to stop the pollution of the river was not implemented despite repeated attempts. ‘Stakeholders do not believe that river pollution can be controlled. But we have done a shocking job, ‘he said.

Stakeholders are expected to take the initiative

Some clean water has been seen in the river after the industry was shut down due to pressure from the administration during Chhath. After that, the river is polluted again.

Advocate Surendra Kurmi, coordinator of the campaign, said that the letter was handed over expecting the stakeholders to take initiative to solve the problem by calling the industrialists who are polluting the river. The river is polluted because of the leather industry and boiler industry. The same toxic water is discharged into the river. For the people of Birgunj, Sirsia is Ganga. When they are alive, they go to worship Chhath. After death, they are immersed in Sirsiya, ‘he said.

Stating that they have been accused of trying to shut down the industry, he said that the stakeholders should take initiative to solve the problem by calling the industrialists who are polluting the river.

Understanding the letter, Secretary of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ashish Lath assured to provide necessary assistance for the control of river pollution. He said, “We will discuss how to solve the problem by calling the polluting industries. If there is no alternative, we will also draw the attention of the stakeholders.”

Chief District Officer Umesh Dhakal has expressed his commitment to take action if any request is made naming the polluting industry. He also assured to hold discussions with the industrialists and businessmen of Bara and Parsa to solve the problem.

The joint commitment letter made public by the five-party alliance for the Birgunj Metropolitan City before the local level election also mentions to control the pollution of Sirsia river.

How to control the existing pollution in Sirsia river, said Rajeshman Singh, Mayor of Birgunj Metropolitan City. He said that a round of discussions has been held with the Chief District Officer.

Stating that he has focused on the sanitation of the city and the 11th session of the Municipal Council to be held on July 26, he assured to move ahead with the work to control the pollution of Sirsia River after the Municipal Council. The Ministry of Industry should be most responsible for the issue of river pollution. But the ministry has not been monitored, it remains to be seen whether the commitment will be implemented, ‘he said. He claimed that pure water would flow in the river Sirsia from the coming Chhath.

The campaign had similarly drawn the attention of the stakeholders in October, 2006. Despite the commitment of stakeholders for pollution control, no concrete work has been done.

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