What lesson should Kathmandu learn from Delhi’s pollution?

Kathmandu : India’s capital New Delhi and the northern states–Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (UP)—that border with Nepal have been bearing the brunt of excessive pollution at present.

The pollution has adversely affected the normal life in the states resulting in the shutdown of educational institutions and halt of construction works. The pollution of Delhi has a huge impact in the big cities that are closer to the Indian capital. The impact of the pollution is also being felt in Nepal.

If we fail to become serious on time and take necessary initiatives, Kathmandu will soon face problem of pollution like Delhi. Kathmandu will have to face serious consequences if the government did not control the increasing number of diesel and petrol-run vehicles, manage chaotic system of public vehicles, construction works and factories.

Delhi and other big cities have been facing the current plight because of the lackadaisical approach on the part of concerned authorities in enforcing law. Unfortunately, Nepal is also following on the footsteps of India.

Kathmandu, which has already been facing the problem of pollution for the past many years, will soon suffer the problem of pollution like Delhi if the government did not think seriously.

The pollution of Delhi has been affecting the districts of Terai more than Kathmandu. It has been found that the pollution levels of Lumbini, Sauraha and Nepalgunj have surpassed the pollution level of Kathmandu.

According to experts, the government has now four options to control the pollution. The option first is to increase electric vehicles, second is to improve public vehicles and third is to formulate a strict law that would make the contractors responsible for the dust blown from the construction sites of Kathmandu. The fourth option is to coordinate with various agencies to bring an end to the problem of digging up roads for different reasons.

Talking to Hakahaki, environmentalist Prabhu Budhathoki underlined the need to give priority to the electric vehicles. “Plans are afoot to develop Kathmandu as megacity. The flow of vehicles will increase once Kathmandu is developed as the megacity. The pollution is going to be a big problem if the concerned authority did not take the initiatives on time to manage the chaotic situation of Kathmandu. That is why, we should give top priority to the electric vehicles,” he said.

Apart from that, he underscored the need for coordination among the concerned authorities. Saying that it is not possible to control the pollution alone, Budhathoki said that all the seven provinces should coordinate with each other for the same.

Similarly, another environmentalist Binod Bhatta stressed on the need to control the dust. Though the environment remains clean after the rainfall, the pollution level does not go down during autumn. Hence, he advised the authorities to control the source of pollution.

“Dust is equally dangerous as smoke,” he said, adding, “It is wrong to think that the dust level will decrease every10/15 days from the atmosphere.”

“It will take just a few years for Kathmandu to reach the level of Delhi if the smoke is not controlled and wastages are not managed. It is a hint for us to be aware as the number of people suffering from respiratory disease is increasing day by day owing to pollution. Delhi’s pollution is an opportunity for us to be aware and take necessary steps,” he said.

Environmentalist Bhusan Tuladhar warned that we might not be too far from the situation whereby we will have to declare public health emergency in Kathmandu because of the pollution.

Saying that the indicator of Delhi’s pollution is also in Kathmandu, he said that it is necessary to identify that indicator.  Tuladhar said that the Indian government has a plan to control the pollution in case it reached the worst level but the Nepal government does not have any emergency action plan. Moreover, he said that the government should make a plan to prepare for the emergency situation.

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