Air monitoring stations yet to be set up

Kathmandu, October 22

Although two months have elapsed since the government began operating an air quality monitoring station in Ratnapark, the plan to install two other stations in Pulchowk and Dhulikhel has yet to materialise.

The Department of Environment had resumed air quality monitoring process by setting up a station in Ratnapark on August 9 in coordination with International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and the Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project.

According to the department, lack of preparations and technical difficulties threw cold water on its plans to operate three stations at once. “We are facing problems as Pulchowk campus building is not safe enough to set up the station, while the Dhulikhel-based station has not come into operation due to technical problems” Ganesh Kumar Shrestha, director general at the department told The Himalayan Times.

If the problems are resolved, the government plans to operate additional 15 air quality monitoring stations throughout the country by the end of this fiscal, added Shrestha.

The department said three air quality monitoring stations in Ratnapark of Kathmandu, Bhairahawa of Rupandehi and Sauraha of Chitwan are currently running. Another station based in Ichchhyakamana of Chitwan is not in operation.

Six locations — Kalimati, Machchhegaun, Bhaktapur, Khumaltar, Chandragiri and Shankhapark — were identified to set up the stations. There was an agreement that three stations would be set up by the department, four by KSUTP and two by ICIMOD. Shrestha added that three more stations would be established in Pokhara and the one in Ichchhyakamana’s would be repaired.

The government had resumed air quality monitoring in Kathmandu this year, seven years after the previous stations were closed in 2009.

Air quality monitoring station monitors levels of carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone in the atmosphere. Although the practice of monitoring levels of air pollution began in Nepal in 2002 with the installation of seven air quality stations in the Valley by the Danish government, all stations were closed by 2009.

After the stations were handed over to the Nepali government in 2008, the government entrusted the Environment and Public Health Organisation with managing the stations. However, a misunderstanding between the government and the ENPHO led to closure of the stations in 2009.