Nepal | September 30, 2020

EDITORIAL: Ensure clean air

The Himalayan Times
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As air pollution can cause serious health problems we need to do more to reduce the air pollution level and ultimately be able to breathe clean air, which is our right

The Kathmandu Valley holds the dubious distinction of being the third most air-polluted city in the world.

This should be taken up seriously by the concerned but they are found doing little about it even when they should be doing all they can to reduce air pollution. Vehicular emission is cited to be the major cause of deteriorating air quality in the urban areas in the country.

Vehicular emission is found to have been mainly caused by the use of substandard or adulterated fuel, narrow and poorly maintained streets, poor traffic management, old vehicles and poor vehicular maintenance.

Seven years after the government had stopped monitoring the air quality in the capital city, a measuring station is now monitoring air quality.

A station has been set up in Ratna Park and it has been sending valuable data since August 9 and it is constantly monitoring the air pollution level.

According to the Department of Environment this is only the beginning and it is all set to go ahead with installing 56 such stations to monitor the air quality throughout the urban areas of the country.

With the passage of time the level of air pollution is increasing by leaps and bounds. Moreover, there are constitutional provisions to ensure the citizens’ fundamental right to clean air.

But so far this has been limited to paper only with little if any work done to deal with the alarming pollution levels and to bring them down. This calls for the concerned government departments to work in a coordinated manner in order to check and reduce the pollution more effectively.

The lack of this is glaringly apparent from the haphazard manner in which the various government bodies are conducting their activities. The Department of Environment should work with other concerned departments like the Department of Roads.

Their failure to do so has exacerbated the pollution levels over the decades without let-up unless some drastic anti-air pollution measures are taken.

The data collected so far from the plant that has been installed at Ratna Park shows that the level of concentration of dust particles is well above the permissible limit with high concentration.

The particulate matter in the air is measured by the gadget. Nepal has set the standard of its national air pollution at 40 micrograms per cubic meter. So far the plant has been providing only preliminary data.

The data should be thoroughly analysed so as to measure the actual pollution levels at any given time. The government is all set to install the air quality monitoring stations also in Dhulikhel and Lalitpur soon.

It takes at least two to three days for the plants to operate after they have been installed. Constant monitoring of air pollution will show what is responsible for the high air pollution level.

In Kathmandu the burning of fossil fuel by brick kilns numbering hundreds is also to be blamed.

Moreover, as air pollution can cause serious health problems we need to do more to reduce the air pollution level and ultimately be able to breathe clean air, which is our right.

Air pollution should be accorded due priority and if necessary new policies with effective implementation should be in place.

Horn Please

Blowing the horn becomes necessary for drivers of vehicles. And horns are of several kinds, including the pressure horn, which emits an ear-piercing sound of 70 decibels.

According to WHO, the human ear can tolerate only up to 26 decibels of sound. And the sound exceeding 70 decibels is detrimental to human health, causing various types of problems.

The Kathmandu Valley exceeds the WHO guidelines for community noise by a wide margin.

The Environmental Statistics of Nepal- 2013 released by the Central Bureau of Statistics point out that the various city areas of the valley measure somewhere near or above the 70-decibel maximum limit.

The Nepalese law prohibits the use of the pressure horn except on the highways.

In this connection, the decision of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division to launch a drive to punish the blowing of the pressure horn within Ring Road, especially in no-horn zones, is welcome, though belated.

Such punishing needs rather to be a regular activity than a campaign, which indicates a temporary nature of law enforcement.

It would be sensible also to consider discontinuing the use of the pressure horn on Nepalese highways.

A version of this article appears in print on August 26, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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