Nepal | May 29, 2020

EDITORIAL: A timely move

The Himalayan Times
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The aged vehicles belonging to private and the government should also be phased out to bring vehicular emission level at a permissible limit

The government will not allow the public vehicles that are 20 years old or more to ply the streets of the Kathmandu Valley in a bid to reduce emission level and improve air quality. This move will come into force from today. The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) has already notified the concerned vehicle owners to keep their vehicles off the roads or face legal actions. Actually, the ban on the vehicles which are 20 years old or more was imposed from March 1. But the department gave additional time for the owners to scrap their vehicles by March 15. According to DoTM estimates, as many as 2,500 such old public vehicles were plying the roads until the ban was imposed. Various studies have shown that vehicular emission contributes to around 38 percent to make local environment and air quality polluted followed by brick kilns factories, which are another factors making the heavily populated Valley unsuitable for living from health point of view. The DoTM has also announced phasing out the old
vehicles from across the country from March 15 itself. An estimated 2,500 old vehicles are in operation outside the Valley.

Similar decisions had also been made in the past as well. But they could not be implemented effectively due to fierce oppositions from the vehicle owners, who argued that they would lose their investments if such measures were taken without offering them an alternative. This move will particularly hit hard the rural areas where very old vehicles—mostly phased out from city areas—are in operation and where the condition of roads is very pathetic. DoTM Director General Rupnarayan Bhattarai has said any transporter operating old vehicles across the country after March 15 will be liable to action prescribed by law. The government will neither issue route permits for such old vehicles nor will renew their registration. However, the government has yet to decide on
the government and private vehicles that are 20 years old or more. But the number of aged government vehicles is estimated to be much higher than the phased out public vehicles. The aged vehicles belonging to private and the government should also be phased out to bring vehicular emission level at a permissible limit.

Old and poorly-maintained vehicles are the major causes of road accidents, mostly on highways and rural roads. They also belch out harmful smokes and gases, mostly by the diesel-fed vehicles. A recent study carried out by the government has shown that more than 50 per cent vehicles operating in the Valley were found to have exceeded emission levels set by the government. Imposing a total ban on old vehicles is not enough to improve air quality and lessen the road accidents, which, according to five years’ data, claim the lives of 2,100 people annually. The new vehicles have also been found to have breached the emission level. It is high time that Nepal gradually shifted from the fossil fuel-run vehicles to electric ones and mass transportation. Condition of roads should also be improved at a standard level to save people’s life and prolong vehicles’ longevity.

Khokana heritage

Locals of Khokana and Bungamati have protested against the Kathmandu-Tarai expressway, saying it would destroy arable land and damage their cultural and religious sites. The proposed expressway project, being built by the Nepali Army, passes through Khokana and Bungamati to connect Kathmandu with Nijgadh. Once completed, it is expected to dramatically reduce the road travel time from the Capital to the Tarai region. Apart from the expressway, there are other projects—an outer ring road and a transmission line—in Khokana. The locals have also complained that they have been offered too little compensation for their valuable land.

The Kathmandu-Tarai expressway is a national pride project. Despite the protest by Khokana locals, the Nepali Army has continued construction works. The Kathmandu-Tarai expressway will pass through Ku-Dey and Sikali hillock, destroying more than 60 per cent of the historic sites of Khokana. Ku-Dey is believed to be the origin of the Khokana locals. There is no denying that the country needs development projects like Kathmandu-Tarai expressway. But at the same time, it is wrong to ignore the locals’ call to save their ancient village and protect their cultural and religious values. Khokana heritage must be saved.


A version of this article appears in print on March 15, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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