Nepal | September 30, 2020

EDITORIAL: Shocking scenario

The Himalayan Times
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There is no place in the Valley where people are not suffering from the respiratory ailments. Cases of respiratory problems are even more alarming on the roadside where the construction works are underway

It is shocking to learn that the number of patients suffering from respiratory ailments has increased by 20 percent in the Kathmandu Valley in the past couple of years.

Medical practitioners at various hospitals and clinics specializing in respiratory health have revealed this disturbing fact blaming the dust particles for the increment of respiratory-related health problems for all age groups children, youth and the elderly such as heart ailments, lung disorder, allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, bronchial asthma, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

According to doctors, the Valley is not a suitable place to live in for those who are allergic to dust.

The public has been spending millions of rupees for medical treatment for such ailments which could have been easily avoided had the government and municipalities worked in earnest to control dust particles arising from the ongoing construction activities taking place in the densely populated settlements and in the city areas without applying a mechanism to control dust.

Haphazard and unplanned digging of roads, pipelines being laid for the Melamchi Drinking Water Project, open storing of construction materials, permission to run brick-kiln factories in and around the densely populated settlements and emission of mono-carbon by outdated vehicles are among the main factors responsible for the rising number of patients suffering from respiratory problems.

It has been years since the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority started widening the 362-km-long roads. The authorities have failed to complete their task within the deadline set earlier due to lack of coordination between and among the government agencies.

Due to the ongoing construction works, the roads and pavements become muddy during the rainy season, and they become dusty during the dry season making it difficult to commute.

There is no place in the Valley where people are not suffering from the respiratory ailments.

Cases of respiratory problems are even more alarming on the roadside where the construction works are underway, and there are no signs that they will completed soon.

Doctors have warned that the situation would turn from bad to worse if the construction activities are not carried out as per schedule. In order to minimise the adverse health effects of the dust particles and emission of mono-carbon from old vehicles, the government should apply strict measures to control such harmful elements.

Sprinkling of water in areas where construction work is underway can be one of the temporary measures to control dust particles. Taking into account the alarming rate of respiratory problems, the Ministry of Health should arrange free medical treatment to those patients suffering from various ailments.

The vehicles belching smoke more than the standard set by the Department of Transport Management should be phased out from the city areas and the brick-kiln factories located around the densely populated settlements should be relocated elsewhere.

The government cannot play with the health of the public in the name of development.

Commuting risks

It is indeed alarming to learn that about 40 per cent of those who died in traffic accidents in the capital were pedestrians crossing the roads during the fiscal 2015/16.

Among the many factors that led to such deaths are the fading zebra crossings in most of the roads and no one seems to be least bothered. The authorities pass the buck by saying that they could not do in the absence of a budget to do so.

Clearly this is only an excuse which cannot be tolerated. As the zebra crossings in most places have faded away pedestrians tend to cross the roads from wherever they want to.

Even vehicle drivers are unable to see the fading zebra crossings.

Meanwhile, everything possible must be done to make commuting in the roads of the capital city safe. Without the necessary infrastructure in place this is not possible.

Everybody using the roads should strictly abide by the traffic rules in order to avoid tragic traffic accidents. By painting the zebra crossings many such accidents could be averted.

The necessary budget should be immediately allocated for this purpose.

A version of this article appears in print on December 27, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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