Lalitpur, Oct. 25: Mayors of the18 municipalities of the Kathmandu Valley have expressed solidarity to fight against the menace of growing air pollution.
Stating that the individual efforts of any municipality would be insufficient to resolve the long standing problem, they expressed commitment to making the valley a livable place.
“We have long been waiting for the support from the central government, but there has been very little progress in mitigating the problem of pollution. So, we should initiate programmes to fight with the problem,” they said at the Mayors’ Summit on Air Pollution on Thursday.
They also said that they did not want to waste the remaining four years of their tenure as the mayors of the municipalities.
Mayor of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Bidya Sundar Shakya said that collaboration should be forged among the cities in the valley as well as with the concerned government agencies to manage the garbage and address the problem of air pollution.
“There is confusion as the government policies are not clear. First of all we need better policies in place,” he said.
Mayor of the Lalitpur Metropolitan City (LMC) Chiri Babu Maharjan termed the summit as the beginning of a good initiative.
“The environment was in bad condition since long, but we have become the target of criticism as we are the elected ones. Therefore, remedies should be found at the earliest,” he said.
Mayor of the Madhyapur Thimi Municipality Madan Sundar Shrestha said a forum of the valley’s municipalities was created last week which would be instrumental in forging collaborations among them.
The mayors also demanded technology and funding from the central government to fight pollution.
Scientist at the International Centre for the Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) Dr. Arnico Kumar Pandey said that tailpipe exhaust, road dust, burning of garbage and agricultural residue and brick kilns were the major air pollutants in the valley.
In addition to it, polluted air from the neighbouring Indian states also comes to the valley.
“Every year 9,000 people die due to diseases caused by external air pollution and 22,000 die from internal air pollution,” he said.
Mexican Ambassador to Nepal Melba Pria said that many little steps were needed to combat the existing air pollution in the valley.
She said that the capital of her country, Mexico City, made a significant progress in terms of reducing air pollution by implementing various policies in two decades.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s report on 1992 said that Mexico City had only 8 days of good air in a year which increased to 248 days in 2012 days,” she said.
Mexico City was termed as the worst city in terms of air quality in 1990 but in 2013 it was awarded as one of the best 40 cities in the world.
Pria suggested creating Bus Rapid Transit system, working on metro system, coordinating with the government and private agencies and generating awareness among people to address the problem of air pollution.
“You can’t have a large number of people and industry at the same place,” she said.
Mexico City is just like a bowl as the Kathmandu Valley but has 72 municipalities within it.
Executive Director of Clean Energy Nepal (CEN) Bhushan Tuladhar urged the government to give priority to the pedestrians while developing road infrastructure in the cities.
The programme was jointly organised by the KMC, LMC, CEN and ICIMOD.
Published in The Rising Nepal daily on 26 October 2018.