Kathmandu, November 29
Since reviving air quality monitoring in the Valley four months ago, the Department of Environment has started operating three air quality monitoring stations here and in Dhulikhel.
According to the department, the three stations in Ratnapark, Pulchowk and Dhulikhel began air quality monitoring since last week. They have been forwarding the data to the central server, which automatically uploads air pollution data to the government’s website (www.pollution.gov.np).
“The three stations came into operation from last week,” Shankar Prasad Paudel, senior divisional chemist at the department, told The Himalayan Times. “After successfully operating them, we are going to collecting gas data from the stations.”
He said the three stations would also measure concentration of four types of air pollutant gases carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and ozone in the air. Currently, the stations are measuring dust particles in pm10, pm 2.5 and pm1; total suspended particles; wind speed; wind direction, air temperature; and relative humidity.
Though air pollution monitoring in Nepal began in 2002, no stations were operational since 2009.
The Danish government had installed seven air quality stations in the Valley in 2002. Five of these stations were set up in Machchegaun, Kirtipur, Patan, Putalisadak, and Bhaktapur each, and two in Thamel.
After the stations were handed over to the government in 2008, the government entrusted Environment and Public Health Organisation with operating them. However, a misunderstanding between the government and ENPHO led to closure of the stations in 2009.
According to the department, six additional stations will be installed in Khumaltar, Machchhegaun, Teku, Bhaktapur, Chandragiri and Kapan or Maharajgunj.
The department is in the process of installing 56 stations throughout the country with the help of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and Kathmandu Sustainable Urban Transport Project.
According to the Environment Performance Index 2016 that quantifies the environmental performance of state’s policies, Nepal ranks 149 among 180 countries, and 177 in air quality.
While cities around the world, including neighboring countries, have taken stringent actions to improve air quality, Nepal has yet to do so.
A version of this article appears in print on November 30, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.