Nepal | September 30, 2020

Visual pollution goes unchecked in Kathmandu

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Kathmandu, July 1

Sixty-five years after the implementation of Solid Waste Management Act- 1981 in the country, the level of visual pollution in Kathmandu goes unchecked.

While the number of billboards and hoarding boards has reduced in the city, there are still a large number of advertising posters, flexes, and pamphlets cluttering and polluting the city.

Environmental advocate Padam Bahadur Shrestha had filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court in 2015, after which the Supreme Court banned all forms of hoarding boards, paintings, posters, and pamphlets on September 2, 2015.

Besides outdoor signs, mismanaged electric wires, damaged electric poles, derelict walls and old houses are also considered visual pollution.

“It is the responsibility of the municipality and the metropolis to control visual pollution in the city, and they must do so sincerely,” advocate Shrestha said, adding, “It has been almost a year since I filed a writ petition, but the metropolis has only removed 25 per cent of the posters.”

He said that government organisations themselves were violating the Supreme Court order.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City gives permissions to put up advertisements on electric poles, public walls, and hoarding boards for a certain fee. Private companies, schools, and colleges can easily get permission by paying between Rs 3,000 to Rs 50,000 to the KMC.

According to the Act, those found guilty of polluting public places can be fined from Rs 5,000 to Rs 15,000. However, the act is not at all strictly implemented, and places such as Ratnapark, Lazimpat, Bhrikutimandap, and Anamnagar to name a few are inundated with posters of movies, schools, colleges, tuition centres and political campaigns.

Chief of Environment Division at KMC Bhairav Bogati said that the biggest contributor to visual pollution today was haphazardly placed electric wires crisscrossing and blocking the skyline.

“We are trying to solve the problem of haphazardly placed electric wires,” Bogati said. He added, “The problem of billboards will be solved as soon as possible. We are planning to work more on that issue than we have in the past days.”

Bogati sai, “Although pamphlets and pictures are still put up, the organisations that put them up are fined Rs 500 per day. If the organisations don’t remove the posters after that, the municipality removes them. However, sometimes we cannot do anything because of political pressure.”

Bhim KC, an official at the KMC revenue division, said the metropolis collected Rs 2.36 million in revenue from advertisements this fiscal.

Bishnu Bogati, an assistant inspector, said, “We are working hard to control visual pollution by prohibiting the display of billboards in public places. While they are allowed on private land and houses, such boards must be displayed 10 feet away from roads and must not exceed a height of 30 feet. ”

A version of this article appears in print on July 02, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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