It’s a battlefield out there

Published On: March 24, 2017 10:46 AM NPT By: Kalu Maila

You don’t need to go to the Middle East to experience their dust storm. Just visit our Ring Road area, especially Balkhu or Gwarko, and take a selfie and post it on Facebook telling the rest of the world that you are enjoying one of those dust storms. Nobody needs to know you are not somewhere in the Middle East. 

Earlier, one of those 10-rupees masks would help you out while you rode your scooter in and around Kathmandu. Now, you need to buy a special filter mask that costs more than a thousand rupees and we don’t even know if that really protects you from all the dust, fumes and chemicals out there in the air. It would be better if we all purchased a gas mask, the ones that claim to protect a person from chemical warfare. I don’t know how much it will cost but you might have to sell your scooter to get hold of one if you really want to live longer in this capital.

It seems that our government doesn’t care about its people. And the people themselves don’t really care about themselves either. Why are we not out on the street, protesting against our municipality, our road department, and our water and sanitation folks? It seems that one has to be a political cadre to protest against our government entities while the rest of us, the silent majority, just whine and complain while all of us suffer from allergies, and respiratory problems due to the dust storm in the city. 

It seems that we are only good at complaining about our governmental agencies either in social media or when our relatives visit us for some snacks and drinks at home. We all want our governmental agencies to coordinate with one another and make our city great.

But it seems that they either don’t have the time or don’t want to coordinate because it will save us a lot of money and the city projects will be completed on time instead of taking decades. And that won’t work to their advantage, will it? 

I think our municipality should be the one responsible for all project works in the city. If the roads department folks want to pave the road then they must coordinate with the municipality. If the water and sewage folks want to dig up our roads then our municipality folks should make sure that the roads are paved once they are done with their work. 

The Melamchi water folks come to our neighborhood and dig the roads to lay their water pipes. A week later, the sewage folks happily visit our neighborhood and start digging again to lay their sewage pipes. And nobody really knows when our dug up roads will be paved again. Then the local political analyst, the one who seems to be hanging out at the local teashop all day long, spreads a rumor that even the telephone and electricity folks plan to take their wires underground soon. I don’t know if that’s true and if they plan to do it anytime soon but what I do want to know is if and when our roads are finally going to be paved again so that we can finally not suffer from the dust storm that is making breathing difficult in the city.

But my uncle tells me that we don’t have to worry. After we get water from Melmachi, we can all fill up our buckets and take showers every day. After the sewage folks are done with their pipes, the Bagmati river and its tributaries will be finally clean and fishes will return and we can all go swimming like our grandfathers used to when they were kids. And once they are done with paving the roads, this city will be great again. But until then, we must be patient and let our governmental agencies do their work. 

Maybe my uncle is right but what good will it be to get a few buckets of water from Melamchi, have our sewage lines working well and also have paved roads without potholes when most of us will by then be suffering from life-long respiratory illnesses. Maybe, the future generation will get to enjoy the so-called development works in the city but, I guess, we are the unlucky ones who have no choice but to suffer miserably in hopes that our children will get to live in a clean city. 

When the road-widening projects started, most of us were happy because we would be getting wider roads and our traffic problems would somehow be minimized. But it has just turned out to be just the opposite. Now, the pedestrians are the ones who are suffering because they are not able to cross the road while the four-wheelers and two-wheelers speed up in the widened roads.

I think the best solution to solve the traffic jam in the valley would be to make all roads go one-way. Maybe, one-way traffic will help ease traffic congestion. We will have to ask the experts about that. Yes, we need the cable cars, the metro-rail or even flying teacups that can take you from Pulchowk to Thamel in three minutes. But let’ stop dreaming for now and turn back to reality. 

For now, we just want the folks who are digging our roads to find ways to minimize the dust storm in the valley so that our children or their children won’t have to suffer so much when they go to temples and schools in the morning. But the sad and unfortunate thing is that politicians and authorities travel around the city with their car windows rolled up so this matter isn’t an urgent one for them. But don’t they realize that air pollution affects everyone the same and that the very air we breathe is polluted? Oh yes, they can very easily go abroad for treatment lest they fall sick.

The writer is a house husband who believes in changing, if not the world, the community he lives in one person at a time. Reach him at

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