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‘Increasing pollution posing threat to life’

A woman covers her face to avoid polluted air in Balkhu, Kathmandu on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Nepal ranks 177 among 180 countries in terms of air quality with pollution index of 81.76. Photo: Skanda Gautam

Patients of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are increasing in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, January 12, 2017: The Research Centre for Primary Health Care organised a national consultation on the ‘Role of State and Non-state Sectors in Addressing Air Pollution in Kathmandu Valley’ in collaboration with Nepal Health Research Council yesterday.

Addressing the consultation programme, environmental expert Bhusan Tuladhar said Kathmandu may soon be as polluted as more populated cities such as Delhi and Beijing.

According to the data of World Health Organisation, nearly 9,943 people in the country die each year of diseases caused by air pollution.

Similarly, a report of World Bank shows that 22,038 Nepali nationals over the world die each year due to diseases caused by air pollution.

“The number of patients of heart diseases, lung cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, and acute respiratory infections is increasing in the city,” Tuladhar said, adding that rising pollution was a threat to life.

The increase in the number of vehicles in Kathmandu is conjectured to be the main reason for rising pollution in the Valley. Other factors contributing to increasing pollution are increased use of agricultural insecticides, open burning of waste, increased domestic activities, emission of industries especially brick kilns, and re-suspended dust on roads.

“The government has been running road expansion projects without proper environmental impact assessment, which has increased pollution in the Valley,” Tuladhar said.

Presenting a keynote speech, Dr Khem Bahadur Karki said, “With the increase in pollution in the Valley, 3.7 per cent of the population have died of respiratory diseases, and the percentage of patients being admitted to hospitals for pneumonia and asthma have increased from 1.3 per cent to 3.4 per cent.”

Speaking at the programme Advocate Shringa Rishi Kafle said, “According to United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection, people have the right to live in a healthy environment. The constitution of Nepal has also guaranteed the right to live in a healthy environment.

But people are yet to be able to exercise these rights.” The constitution also states that the victim of environment pollution shall have the right to be compensated by the pollutant as per laws.