Sunday, 17 January, 2021

Local level collaboration crucial to tackle air pollution


By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Nov. 21 : With the plunge in temperature levels, major cities, including Kathmandu, witnessed an increase in air pollution. The air we breathe is not healthy and exceeds almost five times the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommended value.
Residents of the main urban areas continue to bear the brunt of pollutants and its harmful effects on public health and the surrounding environment, experts say.
To combat the present environmental crisis, Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), Department of Environment, World Health Organization (WHO), Municipal Association of Nepal (MAN), and Clean Energy Nepal (CEN) jointly organised a zoom conference on Thursday to discuss the problem of air pollution and its effects on human health.
The programme focused on the immediate implementation of the Kathmandu Air Quality Management Action Plan, 2076 to combat the current environmental crisis.
Spokesperson at the MoHP Dr. Jageshwor Gautam said, “Air pollution also makes flu and other lung diseases more severe, so it's not surprising that worsening air quality will increase the risk of COVID-19 further.”
Public Health Administrator for the Country Office of WHO in Nepal, Dr. Khurshid Alam Hyder attributed air pollution to being a silent killer, which as per WHO, has claimed over 37,000 Nepali lives annually.
KMC and LMC have already committed to maintaining air quality within the WHO guidelines by joining the BreatheLife campaign.
“WHO has been providing technical support to minimize the health impacts of air pollution through research studies and capacity building and will continue so in implementing air quality management action plans," added Hyder.
Furthermore, the Mayor of Dhulikhel Municipality Ashok Kumar Byanju highlighted the importance of integrated planning and effective coordination among all Local Government of the Kathmandu Valley is to curb air pollution including maintaining environmental sanitation in the valley. “The government has collected funds by charging a pollution tax on the petroleum products, this should be immediately utilised to control environmental problems, including air pollution," he said.
Deputy director-general of the Department of Environment Indu Bikram Joshi said, "Out of the 136 activities proposed to achieve the goal of clean and healthy air, 75 activities -- 42 in main roles and 32 collaborative roles -- are directly linked to local governments."
In the over two-hour-long virtual symposium, Mayors and Deputy Mayors of different municipalities also shared their commitments towards protecting the environment and presented the key initiatives

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