The mid-year air pollution index of 2018 shows Kathmandu is the second most polluted city in the world with a pollution index of 96.05. For the past few years, Kathmandu has regrettably been able to make it to the top five polluted cities of the world.
Some of the major influencing factors are air quality degradation, high vehicular density in the roads and uncontrolled emission from them, endless cycle of road demolition and construction. Other influencing components to the degrading air quality are: Over a decade- old Melamchi drinking water project and smoke/dust emissions from small factories and brick kilns. With the approaching winter, it is only a matter of time before residents start visiting hospitals to cure their respiratory related problems.
Air pollution is especially high during winter as a result of the dust particles and smoke enduring closer to the ground due to fog or clouds. Adding more to this, the people tend to burn more fuel wood and garbage which results in polluting the air further more. This peaks in the month of January.
The only way to curb the problem of air pollution in Kathmandu is to restore greenery, which acts as a natural sink for dust and smog to land upon. Trees, being an important natural sink, play a significant role in urban environment when it comes to controlling air pollution. Usually trees perform a number of ecosystem services including air pollution removal, carbon sequestration, cooling air temperatures and providing aesthetic beauty to the urban landscape. As people and trees exist throughout a landscape in varying densities, not only will pollution removal and its effect on local pollution concentrations vary, but so will the associated human health impacts and values derived from their services.
As the condition of Kathmandu is worsening every day, we need to act fast so that we and our family members don’t have to keep breathing this toxic air and suffer from all sorts of respiratory diseases that will cause enormous amount of physical suffering and economic loss. The time has come for us to raise our voice to make this city green and pollution free. Strong measures should be taken to make this happen. The support and participation of residents is of utmost importance. I hereby request the people of Kathmandu to make this concern one of your top priorities.