Locals of the old quarters in Kathmandu are ready to do all they can to make their area free of vehicles. Their enthusiasm was clearly visible around Basantapur area on Wednesday.
The local youths did not even allow the vehicles of Metropolitan Police Range and the Nepal Army enter the restricted zones as they whole heartedly worked to make the campaign to keep areas of historical and cultural importance vehicle free a success.
“We the locals are enthusiastic about making the vehicle-free campaign a success, but cooperation from the police and the army is lacking,” said Suman Gautam, a local of Basantapur who volunteered throughout the day at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square area. In an ongoing celebration of World Car Free Week, motor vehicles are restricted from entering certain road stretches, where people can walk, cycle, meet or even play games freely.
Although the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) has implemented the ban on vehicular movement at Hanuman Dhoka World Heritage Site area, the restriction does not apply to government-owned vehicles, especially those belonging to security agencies. But the youths somehow managed to persuade the security personnel to park their vehicles out of the restricted area.
The campaign, effective since September 20, will last till Saturday and it is being celebrated as a street festival, “Ktm Walks” or “Hindau Kathmandu.” It has helped to reclaim the streets usually occupied by vehicles for walking and cycling, said KMC’s Culture Division Chief Shriju Pradhan.
“The public participation has raised hopes of reviving the lost essence of the traditional pedestrian’s routes in Kathmandu,” said Pradhan.
The collective effort of government offices, non-government organizations and the locals has given a huge boost to the Ktm Walks campaign that restricts vehicular movement in core areas around the main tourist hubs of Basantapur, Thamel and the adjoining areas.
For this, Janabahal-Kilagal, Basantapur, Satghumti and Bhagwan Bahal in Thamel, Teku Dobhan-Kaalmochan and Durbar Marg would be open only for pedestrians on various dates.
Apart from documentary screening, cultural programs and persuading vehicle owners to support the campaign, the Ktm Walks has also been helping people learn ways to cope with water shortage in their own locality.
Shreejana Shakya of Dallu, while observing the exhibition, said that she came to know about the rain water harvesting, rooftop farming more properly after visiting the exhibition.
When the locals and the campaigners started restricting vehicles in the capital’s tourism hub, Thamel, they had anticipated receiving negative reaction from the visitors. But contrary to their fear, the organizers received positive response from the shops, cafes and hotels in the area, mentioned Geeta Gurung, executive member of the Thamel Tourism Development Board.