Despite decades of restoration efforts by a rich ensemble of state-development actors, cultural heritage votaries and rights activists, the Bagmati is nothing less than a sewage canal by the time it meets its tributaries in Kathmandu. In her book Reigning the River: Urban Ecologies and Political Transformation in Kathmandu Anne Rademacher, assistant professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, chronicles how the river’s degradation resonates with the perceived social, cultural, religious and political disorder in the tumultuous democracy.

Newly democratic Bhutan pushes community forestry to tackle rural poverty.

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Environmentalists see red over wildlife bill in Bangladesh. A rift has been created between the Bangladesh government and activists. Reason: a bill that gives powers to the government to declare forest areas protected while pushing for co-management of forests by authorities and communities. Activists say the bill, if passed, would put forests and wildlife at risk.

Karma Tshiteem is the secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission, the novel name of Bhutan’s Planning Commission. He tells Aditya Batra how the concept has fared in the new democracy.

The Bagmati loses its way in Kathmandu amid political vacuum and urban chaos. The chaos and urban sprawl of today’s Kathmandu have taken a serious toll on the stretch of the Bagmati and its tributaries that meet in the city. In the absence of clear guidelines regulating river water use and diversion, the city extracts some 30 million litres of water each day from this seasonal river to quench its thirst, even in the dry season.

Aditya Batra in conversation with Keshab Sthapit, a mayor famous for muscling his way to urban renewal.

For more than two decades, Huta Ram Baidya has led the Save Bagmati River campaign. An affable, octogenarian activist and Nepal’s first agricultural engineer, his views have been widely circulated in the country’s regional language press, radio, television and on websites. He tells Aditya Batra that the river’s extreme degradation bears testament to extreme cultural and environmental loss in the Kathmandu valley.

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Down To Earth finds out how analog forestry has created an economically productive and ecologically diverse landscape in Sri Lanka