Pollution is killing Thamel’s laid-back charm

Kathmandu, August 15 :

Kathmandu’s main tourist hub, Thamel is losing its charm thanks to deteriorating environmental conditions due to rising air and sound pollution. Increased vehicular traffic and business activities are the main contributors to the problems. These are facts revealed by a study report conducted by the Resource Centre for Primary Health Care with help from Thamel Tourism Development Board (TTDB).

The study has found that the majority of Thamel residents are worried about the worsening situation and are in favour of regulating vehicular movement on the main streets of the area.

Of the total 300 respondents in Thamel, 84 per cent agreed to regulate vehicles on the six main streets of Thamel, while an overwhelming 97 per cent felt that the environment is degrading the area.

With increased air pollution, 85 per cent respondents said that tourists are feeling uncomfortable during their stay in Thamel and shortening the length of stay. “An interesting fact to note is that 83.9 per cent of the respondents, who own vehicles, agreed to regulate the traffic on the main streets of Thamel,” says Keshav Thapa, team leader of the study team.

Among tourist respondents, a majority has mentioned environment related problems such as air and sound pollution and problems in free movement as main reasons for shortened stay in Thamel. According to study findings, 90 per cent problems faced by the tourists is related to environment, while 80.2 per cent is related to free movement. Thamel has more than 2,200 business entities including 136 restaurants and over 140 hotels and guesthouses, located within one square kilometre area.

Interestingly more than 90 per cent tourists either stay or visit Thamel while they are in Nepal.

The situation is worsening day-by-day and air pollution has become a serious problem for Thamel, says Namgyal Lama, president of TTDB, adding that due to increased traffic of motor vehicles, people cannot walk freely on the streets and tourists are complaining about improper traffic management.

Besides increasing vehicular movement, narrow streets, unmanaged parking and rampant hoardings and signboards are also deteriorating the beauty of Thamel as a tourist hub, says Lama. “If the present situation continues, Thamel will be soon losing its charm completely. Tens of millions in investment made by hundreds of businessmen would be at high risk, if vehicular movement is not properly managed in time,” he reckons.