National

Govt calls for ban on ‘open waste burning’ to mitigate air pollution

- Post Report, Kathmandu

In an effort to tackle increasing air pollution in Kathmandu Valley, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) has asked all the metropolitan cities and municipalities in the Valley to enforce ban on open burning (burning of the waste) immediately.

The ministry asked 18 local level governments in the Valley in line with the Supreme Court’s directives last week to take initiative towards controlling air pollution levels in the country.

The PM2.5 was 109 on January 21 which is over four times higher than the WHO guidelines. Fine particles also called particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) which is taken in reference to measure the pollution level has to be less than 25 microgram per cubic metre as per the WHO standard, while the Nepal government has set it to 40, claiming that pollution to this level is “not harmful” for human health.r />
A study conducted by the Department of Environment shows the burning of waste contributes 19 percent to the air pollution. “We ask the local governments to implement  ban on the open burning as envisioned in Solid Waste Management Act,” the ministry said in a statement. 

The report shows emission from the vehicles has a 38 percent share in the air pollution, while dust in the roads and smoke from brick kilns has 25 percent and 11 percent contribution to the air pollution. 

Dust emitting from the digging of roads for laying drinking water pipes and underground cables, and construction works on the Ring Road have only worsened the air quality in the Valley. Many of around 300 brick kilns currently in operation within the Valley are run on coal which emit soot particles. 

In an attempt to cut down on pollution levels, the government last year imposed a ban on the operation of vehicles that are more than 20 years old. But the move has hardly contributed to improving the quality of air in the Valley.

There is a provision that requires all four-wheelers to go through the mandatory annual emission check. Only those vehicles clearing the emission test are issued with a green sticker, or a road permit, but the provision is ineffective.

A recent study ‘Inclusive Cities: Resilient Communities’ commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development showed that more than 80 percent Nepalis living in urban areas like Kathmandu Valley breathe air that exceeds safety limits recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Diseases caused by the air pollution kill 36 people out of 100,000 or 0.036 per cent in Nepal, a WHO report says. The UN body updated its Ambient Air Quality database in 2016 after collecting information from 103 countries. Air pollution causes serious health issues such as heart diseases, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke.

Published: 2018-01-23 08:07:57