Air quality in Kathmandu

The news about New Delhi’s pollution started to come out in the first week of November. My father who was due to return to his work in Delhi, postponed the ticket. New Delhi was blanketed by a toxic haze. Authorities had to announce closure of schools, flights were delayed and people were asked to stay indoors.

“The thick and acrid fog is not new to Delhi in November, weeks after Deepawali, festival of lights says my father.”  Vehicular emissions and smoke from the burning crops in neighboring states, Haryana and Punjab and from fireworks from Deepawali are the major causes of this situation in Delhi. But in recent years, the problem appears to have worsened.

“It will take Kathmandu a decade or two to become like Delhi in terms of infrastructures development,” my father would say whenever we entered into a conversation about the snail paced development of Nepal. I am not sure how long  it will take for Kathmandu to have smooth roads, clean drinking water and good public transportation, but it will soon become a toxic gas chamber for sure.

Kathmandu is notoriously known as ‘Dustmandu’, ‘maskmandu’ etc for its dusty and smoky state. Studies show that the level of dust particles in the Valley’s atmosphere is so high and hazardous that it could in fact kill people. This bowl-shaped Valley has turned out to be a dusty cave these days. The quality of air in the Valley is degrading day by day with derailment of road expansion projects and underground installation of Melamchi drinking water pipes. The government’s failure to replace the old and outdated vehicles plying in the roads of the city has also added air pollution in Kathmandu.

The recent data recorded at different six air quality monitoring stations installed in the Valley are quite alarming. The air in the valley is full of dust particles, toxic gases and chemicals. Rapid urbanization and unprecedented growth in motorization have resulted in significant environmental and health cost. If the government fails to curb the pollution level, the Valley will not take long to become one of the worst places to live in. can see luring plans and agendas of political parties so as to persuade voters. Politicians are trying to convince people by showing them big dreams; they talk about metro trains, smart city and so on. But nobody talks about the fundamental rights of the people. We have a right to breathe clean air. We deserve better.