By Mahima Devkota, Kathmandu, Mar. 23: Experts have emphasized using electric vehicles in Kathmandu and repairing the old vehicles that emit smokes to improve air quality, saying that smoke from vehicles is the greatest contributor to air pollution in the Kathmandu Valley.
According to Professor Dr. Ram Prasad Regmi, Department of Physics, Tribhuvan University, the biggest contributors to air pollution in the Valley is the smoke from vehicles followed by households emissions and brick kilns.
“We had conducted a survey assessing the air quality of air in the Kathmandu Valley in 2018 in the request of the Department of Environment under Ministry of Environment and Forests. The survey had found that 70 percent of the smoke and emission from vehicles needs to be cut down in the valley to meet the standard national air quality index. Along with this, the carbon emission from brick kilns needs to be cut down by 60 percent to meet the air quality standard, he said.
“Similarly, emissions from households need to be controlled by 80 percent as well,” He said while adding that the effective way to control emissions from vehicles is to opt for the electronic vehicles, planned urbanization as well as to manage the public vehicles by cutting off overload of passengers in the valley.
Dr. Khem Karki, air pollution expert, viewed that with many open burn sources and different types of outdated vehicles operating around the city, a large amount of pollution comes from combustion sources. Outdated vehicles often relying on diesel or petrol, pour black carbon, which can permeate the atmosphere in areas of high traffic as well as coating it to black accumulations.
Dr. Karki said, “The accumulated dust and smoke in the Kathmandu Valley do not get the proper outlet and they remain in the atmosphere because of which the pollution level is further augmented. The only way for smoke and dust emissions to be clear from the sky of Kathmandu is through rainwater. Depending on rainwater is not a very reliable option, therefore, a way out is the use of electronic vehicles. For that, the government must exempt taxation and encourage consumers to buy electric vehicles.”
Similarly, unplanned urbanization in the Valley has added to pollution. People from across the country come to the Valley chasing their dreams as there is a lot more to explore in the capital. Therefore, decentralized development is seen as a need for not only the overall development of the country but for reduction of the air pollution in the capital as well.
As per a report about the Capital City Ranking, 2021, Kathmandu, is listed as the sixth polluted city in the world.
On the global front, the report finds that only three percent of cities and no single country met the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) PM 2.5 annual air quality guidelines.
Air pollution is proving to be one of the world’s biggest health hazards to people around the world, contributing to about seven million premature deaths annually, of them, 3,600,000 are children, the report said.
Dr. Rabindra Pandey, the public health expert, said, “Exposure to high levels of air pollution can cause a variety of adverse health outcomes. It increases the risk of respiratory infections, health diseases, and lung cancer. Both short and long-term exposure to air pollutants has been associated with health impacts. More severe impacts affect people who are already ill. Children, elderlies, and people from humble backgrounds are more susceptible.”