Kathmandu, July 24
The Department of Environment has started installing air quality monitoring stations to collect and disseminate data on air quality to all stakeholders, from policy makers to the general public.
A team comprising at least 15 members, including officials from the department, a German service engineer, representatives from International Centre for Integrated Mountain, and others have installed a container that has dust particle monitoring equipment that monitor particulate matter 10 and 2.4 at Ratnapark, Kathmandu.
It is hoped that the project would help increase awareness among the general public on the status of air pollution in the country and their impact on public health and tourism.
After the team’s continuous efforts for four days, it has succeeded to place the container above a three-feet high basement at Ratnapark today.
“We started the first phase installation from Ratnapark since Thursday, but the rain hindered the works, and we have placed the container gifted to us by the ICIMOD today,” Senior Divisional Chemist at the department Shankar Prasad Paudel said.
The actual monitoring work will start a few days later, because the department lacks equipment. The installation process will be completed after connecting the container to an electrical power source tomorrow, and air quality monitoring will begin officially within a couple of days.
The department informed that the installation team has also been installing another station at Kathmandu University premises in Dhulikhel, Kavrepalanchowk.
Although the department had picked three locations for the initial phase earlier, installation works at Pulchowk Engineering Campus has been encountering problems.
After the completion of installment and the start of regular operation, the stations will monitor dust particles and four types of air pollutants, then send the data in real time to its Central Server at National Information Technology Centre.
The stations will monitor levels of carbon monoxide, sulfur 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 shut down by 2009.
One station each was built in Machchegaun, Kirtipur, Patan, Putalisadak, and Bhaktapur, and two were built in Thamel.
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.
According to the Director General at Department of Environment Ganesh Kumar Shrestha, six more stations will be installed in Khumaltar, Machchhegaun, Teku, Bhaktapur, Chandragiri, Kapan and Maharajgunj.
The department is in the process of installing 56 stations throughout the country with the help of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development and the 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.
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 July 25, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.