More than 1,000 people, including those from the Nepal Army and police, took part in the programme in front of the Guheshwari temple as well as at other spots including near the Pashupatinath Temple.

President Yadav offered prayers and performed religious rites, said a statement from the Haridwar-based Gayatri Parivar group.

Addressing the function, Yadav said the campaign had achieved half its goals. “But the road ahead is technically more challenging.”

He said disorganised settlements and drainage system close to the river as well as rampant sand extraction had polluted the river.

Earlier, about 5,000 people took part in cleaning the river Saryu in Ayodhya in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh.

In every campaign, tonnes of waste and litter are taken out from the rivers. These include old clothes, polythene and plastic bags, footwear, bottles, rotting food, and even animal carcasses.

The Bagmati river originates in the Shivpuri hill range in Nepal. Of its total length of 589 km, nearly 400 flows in India where it merges with the Ganges at Kosi in Bihar.

(Agencies)

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