Govt forms panel to implement apex court order

Kathmandu, April 13

The government has decided to formulate and eventually put in place a plan of action for the implementation of the orders issued by the Supreme Court regarding environmental protection.

A meeting of secretaries presided over by Chief Secretary Somlal Subedi held in Singha Durbar yesterday took a decision to this effect. Responding to a writ petition, the apex court on February 2 had issued an order to the government to take effective measures to control dust and smoke pollution in Kathmandu Valley.

A single bench of Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai had issued the order, stating that the level of air pollution should not exceed the standards set by the government. According to Department of Environment, average PM10 was measured at 190 micrograms per cubic meter in Kathmandu. WHO considers air unsafe when average exposure to fine particulate matter exceeds 10 µg/m3. The air pollution also exceeds the National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 120 µg/m3 prescribed by the government.

The constitution, Environmental Protection Act and National Ambient Air Quality Standard require the government to create a healthy and clean environment for people. But the government lacks specific plans and programmes to control pollution. The Valley, which is bursting at the seams with population growing rapidly is choking on polluted air.

Similarly, PM2.5 should be below 40 micrograms per cubic meter during a period of 24 hours against PM 2.5 at 109.08 micrograms per cubic metre recorded by Ratnapark-based air quality monitoring station on January 3.

According to the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, a 10-member committee headed by a secretary at the OPMCM has been formed to implement the SC order. The committee will formulate and implement long-term, mid-term and short-term plans. The plan includes specific code of conduct for contractors while carrying out construction work.

Vehicular emission is also a major cause for deteriorating air quality in the urban areas where vehicular emission is much aggravated by substandard or adulterated fuel, narrow and poorly maintained streets, poor traffic management, old vehicles and poor vehicular maintenance.