KATHMANDU, Sept 20: Immediately after the formation of the present government in February, the ministers and leaders of the ruling party had promised to make Kathmandu Valley free from dust and pollution soon. However, their words and the government's attempts to keep the capital city dust free remain only as hollow promises.
After winning the local election in May 2017, Bidya Sundar Shakya, mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), had announced to make the capital city free from dust and smokes but he could not keep his words.
KMC began using road broomer machines in the morning and spraying water at night in the areas around Ratnapark of Kathmandu in December 2017 in an attempt to keep the city clean. Moreover, sweepers also started cleaning the roads. However, these works faded away and the broomers became dysfunctional after a few weeks.
Prior to the leaders' false assurance, the Department of Roads (DoR) in 2016 had declared to maintain all roads of Kathmandu by blacktopping them within a year. The DoR planned to use broomers, spray water and repair drinking water and sewerage pipelines. However, the people are still suffering from either muddy or dusty roads.
"Suffocating in the increasing level of smoke, smog and dust has become a part of our everyday life."
When asked, several commuters in the capital city expressed their anger over the government's commitments and the failure to translate their words into action.
"Wherever we go we have to see stinking heaps of garbage and wastes here and there. This makes us feel sick," they said in unison. "Suffocating in the increasing level of smoke, smog and dust has become a part of our everyday life."
The Department of Transport Management had announced to implement green sticker system by testing the emission of four-wheelers in the Kathmandu Valley, and in other cities of the country including six metropolitan and 11 sub-metropolitan cities from July 17. However, the plan remains only in papers.
Shankar Prasad Paudel, information officer at the Department of Environment, said that he was unable to comment on this issue."Our spokesperson will speak about it," he said.
Similarly, the Bagmati River Cleaning Campaign was launched five years ago but the once holy river is no more different from sewerage despite the efforts to keep it clean.
The Valley denizens have been suffering a lot due to the government's apathy and ineffective execution of plans and commitments. They have to use unreliable masks to protect themselves from dust pollution, according to the commuters.
The responsible officials do not hesitate to say that controlling dust and smoke is a challenging task. "We have been making efforts," said Gyanendra Karki, spokesperson of the KMC. Karki attributed the dust problems in the capital to the poor condition of roads with potholes. "Almost all of the roads built in the city do not meet the required standards," he said.
The KMC has also signed an agreement to bring six broomers to keep the city clean. "It will take six months to bring them in the country," Karki claimed.
Meanwhile, the Sisdole Landfill Site where the capital city has been dumping its waste since a decade ran out of its capacity to accept any more garbage three years ago but the authorities are still dumping wastes at the site in Nuwakot district. No progress has been made for making the alternative landfill site proposed at Bancharedanda ready.
On the other hand, the plan of the DoR to fill the potholes on the roads of the capital has stalled owing to lack of coordination with other bodies like drinking water, sewerage management, irrigation, electricity and telephone, according to Mukti Gautam, spokesman at the DoR.
"Digging roads and filling them up keep on continuing," Gautam said. "Some of the road works will be accomplished by November and others by next March," he claimed.
Not only the attempts of the present government but also that of the previous governments to make the Kathmandu Valley free from dust have gone in vain. All of the commitments made to the people are yet to be translated into action.