London Mayor Sadiq Khan has glorified his post through his work and persona.

It is not always we hear of mayoral heroes. Of course, sometimes we hear a lot about mayors, often for the wrong reasons.

In the Kathmandu Valley, we heard about Sthapit and Singh. And now we hear about Shakya, Suwal and Maharjan.

They all seem to be great guns for their jurisdiction. To some of us, a mayor is more important than the king, president or prime minister as he is a local chap. A dedicated mayor can offer us a clean, green and healthy local environment for robust living. First thing first, we have faced the worst existential crisis on earth for the last two years. COVID-19 has been a lethal threat to all of us. Worryingly, COVID-19 is making a comeback after a lull in Europe.

Health experts worldwide concur that the mask is the best guard against the omnipresent coronavirus.

Unfortunately, blinded by the festival lights and alcohol, the people have thrown away their gauntlet - mask - into the streets. Neither do they maintain even a six-inch distance, let alone six feet. People squash one another when they are out and about in the marketplace.

Sadly, it looks like we have also forgotten about the sanitiser. If the dreaded virus can return in Europe, can it not do so in the Kathmandu Valley? So, mayors, you have a duty to make sure that the virus does not return to spawn tragedies because of the reckless and criminal negligence of the people.

If they cannot wear a simple device - a mask - to keep the virus at bay, they need proper treatment. You can work collectively or singly to ensure that not a single individual loiters into a public space without a mask. The vendors, especially those who use carts, are the main culprits. So are the migrant labourers, traders, skilled and unskilled professionals like electricians, mechanics, plumbers, the mendicants at the traffic intersection.

When I query these people 'tohar, mask kahan ba?', my spouse tells me you are not the government. As I was waiting at a traffic intersection, I asked a young buck on a cycle, 'Are babuwa, tohar mask kahan ba?' He replied cheekily, "Mask jaroori nahi khey."

Here is what you mayors can do. You can unleash your green brigades in the markets to not only chase the illegal vendors but also catch the mask offenders and treat them as they deem fit. Traffic 'mask khoi' campaign was a damp squib. I watched in horror as the traffic with the 'mask khoi' banner across their torso let go pedestrians, vendors, bikers, bus conductors, four-wheel drivers without masks. I have faith in the power of your green brigade to chastise anyone flouting the number one COVID-19 rule.

A version of this article appears in the print on November 11, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.