Nepal's dirty air

A recent study reveals that air pollution levels in Nepal is one of the worst among South Asian countries

Published: Thursday 30 September 1999

Cornered:people protesting aga a recent study conducted by the Nepal forum of Environmental Journalists ( nefej ) has confirmed that Kathmandu is today one of the most polluted cities among the South Asian countries, its air quality levels being comparable to Mexico city -- which has one of the worst levels in the world. The World Health Organisation ( who ) has claimed that air pollution levels in Kathmandu exceed the acceptable standard by four times. Vehicular emission is believed to be responsible in Kathmandu.

nefej has recently started monitoring air pollution on a rotational basis five days a week at thirty roadside locations in Kathmandu and Lalitpur. Later, results are revealed to the public by Radio Sagarmatha and Nepal Environmental and Scientific Services Private Limited ( ness ).

What is more alarming is that the valley's air shows very high concentrations of respirable particulate matter which are comparable to industrial situations like those of mining areas. The deadly nature of these tiny particles has been corroborated by the who. According to who reports, there is no safe level for particulate matter emissions.

Out of the 140,000 registered vehicles in the valley, 100,000 do not meet emission standards. With 600 new two-wheelers being registered in Kathmandu every week, the pollution levels is set to worsen. The result is that there has been a steep increase in the number of cases of asthma among other diseases, say local doctors.

At a conference organised by the nefej earlier this year some suggestions made to curb air pollution included replacing diesel tempos with cleaner models and phasing out all vehicles that do not conform to emission norms within a specified time frame.

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