Local levels told to implement SC order on pollution control

Kathmandu, September 15

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has issued a circular to all local levels, including metropolitan cities, requesting them to act on the April 4 Supreme Court Order on  pollution control.

According to Environment Management Section of the MoFALD, the circular was issued as per the September 10 secretary-level decision. In response to a writ petition filed by advocate Amita Gautam Paudel, the apex court had ordered the authorities concerned to adopt short-term and long-term measures against environmental pollution.

Under short-term measures, the local levels are required to manage dust, vehicular emission and garbage, and conduct awareness-raising programmes. Free medical treatment of persons physically affected by environmental pollution and plantation of trees in each house of urban areas, on the roadside and the premises of government-buildings are among other short-term measures to be taken by the concerned authorities.

Similarly, long-term measures include levying additional congestion charge on vehicles that  aggravate pollution, promoting mass transportation and discouraging the use of private vehicles, encouraging electric vehicles and the use of alternative fuel, including compressed natural gas, in vehicles and constructing cycle-friendly infrastructure in urban areas.

Although Article 35 of the constitution states that every person shall have the right to live in a clean and healthy environment, people have been deprived of this right. Digging of roads to lay underground utility lines and lack of proper  maintenance has increased dust pollution in Kathmandu Valley due to the lack of coordination among concerned agencies.

Bearing this in mind, the SC had also ordered that the government establish a permanent agency or a separate Public Works Department to maintain inter-agency coordination for digging and repair of roads, laying utility lines and blacktopping. It also said that declaration of a day of every week as motor vehicle holiday and odd-even number plate vehicles on alternate days could also reduce environmental pollution in cities.