As winter sets in and air quality deteriorates, most of Kathmandu Valley’s 18 mayors gathered on Thursday in Patan to listen to experts and discuss a strategy to reduce air pollution.
The Mayors’ Summit on Air Pollution heard from scientists that Kathmandu ranks 261 among the world’s 3,000 most polluted cities. And that a third of the Valley’s pollution is caused by vehicular emissions, 28% from road dust, 23% from garbage burning and 15% from brick kilns. In winter, local air quality is worsened by industrial pollution and crop burning smoke blown in from India.
“People are cursing us because we have not acted to reduce pollution, this forum gives us an opportunity for the Valley’s municipalities to work together to address this public health menace collectively,” said Lalitpur mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan (pictured above, left sitting with Kathmandu Mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya).
One of the Valley’s most pro-active mayors, Madan Sundar Shrestha of Thimi has been building bicycle lanes and widening sidewalks, and advised fellow mayors that there was now enough awareness, and they should move into implementing remedial measures. The Mayor’s Forum will soon decide on steps to be taken to improve the Valley’s air quality.
The Mayors’ Summit was jointly organised by Kathmandu and Lalitpur Municipalities with Clean Energy Nepal and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Bhusan Tuladhar of Clean Energy Nepal pointed out that 20% of Kathmandu’s vehicles caused half the Valley’s pollution, and urged national and local governments to improve fuel quality and enforce green emission stickers.
“It is time for the municipalities to act, and Kathmandu could learn from Mexico City which has curbed air pollution,” Tuladhar added.
Read also: Mexico City’s lessons for Kathmandu, Arnico Panday