Mayors’ forum commits to curbing Valley’s air pollutionThe forum mandates each local unit to prepare an air quality management work plan.
Mayors of local units in Kathmandu Valley have decided to take some immediate measures to curb air pollution.
Air quality in the Kathmandu Valley has been deteriorating of late, reaching unhealthy levels on Monday and raising serious public health concerns.
The meeting of the Kathmandu Valley Mayors’ Forum held on October 31 mandated that each local unit of the Valley prepare an air quality management work plan and endorse it from their respective executive meeting.
The mayors also decided to launch an awareness drive about the adverse impacts of polluted air and ways to mitigate it, and take action against anyone burning waste out in the open.
They also decided to carry out a smoke test of public and private vehicles, jointly monitor brick kilns and factories that emit in vast quantities, hold discussions to find ways to lessen emissions and launch awareness drives to lessen forest fires.
Although the decline in air quality during winter and dry seasons has become normal of late, a sudden spike in air pollution levels is alarming, public health experts say.
Amid this, big hospitals in the Valley have been reporting an uptick in the number of patients suffering from respiratory illness, a phenomenon that the worsening air quality will further exacerbate, doctors say.
Open burning of agricultural residue, which is among the chief culprits for the rise in the level of air pollution, has begun with the start of the harvesting season.
Environment experts blamed growing open burning, especially the burning of agricultural residue, as chief culprit for the deterioration of air quality of late. Growing use of combine harvesters in the Tarai region and the apathy of agencies concerned to prevent open burning have only compounded the problem, they say.
According to a report titled ‘A model-ready emission inventory for crop residue open burning in the context of Nepal’, trends in dry matter generation have increased from 2003/04 to 2016/17 and so has the trend of emissions in the country.
Along with the burning of agricultural residue, incidents of forest fire and several other factors—emissions from brick kilns, factories, vehicular movements and construction activities, among others—contribute to the deterioration of the air quality of the country.
Experts say the deterioration of air quality seriously affects public health, causing both short- and long-term effects—pneumonia, bronchitis, conjunctivitis, skin allergy, stroke and heart problems, among others, in the short term; and ulcers and cancer of the lungs and intestine, kidney disease and heart problems in the long run.
Polluted air has been cutting short the lives of Nepali people by around five years, according to a new report by the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) that converts air pollution concentration into impact on life expectancy. AQLI is a metric produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.
Toxic air is deadlier than tobacco use and high blood pressure, which reduce life by 2.8 years and 1.7 years, respectively.
The report says that air pollution shortens lives by 6.8 years in the nine Nepali districts with the highest concentration of particulate pollution.
“If Nepal were to reduce particulate pollution to meet the WHO guideline, residents in the mid and eastern Tarai region—where nearly 40 percent of Nepal’s population resides—would gain 6.5 years of life expectancy,” the report reads. “In the capital city of Kathmandu—Nepal’s most populous city—residents would gain 3.5 years of life expectancy.”