KATHMANDU, Jan 7: Air pollution in the Kathmandu Valley could be worse than the coronavirus pandemic, experts have warned. Speaking at a discussion held in the capital on Wednesday, they said the situation could become devastating if the government does not act immediately to bring down the pollution levels in the valley.
Speaking at the discussion organized by Ganesh Man Singh Foundation, Pulmonologist Dr Ashesh Dhungana said the increasing level of air pollution in the valley has led to a rise in the number of people suffering from cancer, cardiac disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The rising number of vehicles, factories and development construction work has increased air pollution in Kathmandu. Immediate steps need to be taken by the government to combat pollution, he said. Lung diseases and cardiac diseases are on the rise due to air pollution leading to an increased number of deaths due to cardiac arrest, Dr Dhungana said.
According to Dr Dhungana, every year 40,000 people die on an average due to air pollution in Nepal.
Environmentalist Bhushan Tuladhar said the time had come for a civic movement against air pollution, and this should be a joint campaign by the government and civil society.
Vehicular emission is the largest contributor to air pollution in the valley, he said while pointing out the need for doing away with 20-year-old vehicles. Low-income people, the elderly and the children are the most vulnerable to air pollution related ailments.
Former administrator Dr Sudha Sharma said women have been the most-affected by air pollution, with many limited to the kitchen. Increased urbanization has also increased pollution.
The Foundation’s chair and NC central member Nabindra Raj Joshi said the government remains mum even over such a grave problem. We will face an emergency situation if we are not concerned about it and not act against it on time, he said.