– Sabina Phuyal

Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, attracts a large number of internal migrants and its population is increasing by the day. In spite of the chaos and the sheer expense of living, people still come here to fulfill their dreams. Everyday life is a struggle here but people face it without complaining.

It is normal for all the Valley’s denizens to get stuck in traffic jams for hours on end every day. There are only 1400 traffic police personnel in the Valley which is insufficient to manage the 10,42,856 vehicles that ply these roads. People here have become habituated to driving through blind curves and crumbling roads. The condition of the roads shows how nonchalant the government is about developing this city. According to data provided by the Nepal Police, nearly 2,000 people lose their lives to road accidents annually. It really is a challenge to drive in Kathmandu and traffic management is difficult due to frequent violation of traffic rules by drivers and pedestrians.

The government has enforced a policy banning public vehicles that are 20 years or older in order to control pollution and decrease the number of vehicles which have now far exceeded what the city can manage. Durga Prasad Dawadi, director general of the Department of Environment (DoE), says that the government should put a ban on public vehicles on the basis of vehicular emission instead of age. However, we have yet to see whether the policy will be effective or not. Pollution has become a major killer in cities around the world. In Kathmandu, there are more than 200 brick kilns which is further contributing to air pollution. Bhusan Tuladhar, an environmentalist, says, “Air pollution in Nepal is a major killer, causing more fatalities than road accidents that kill around 2,000 people every year.” According to the findings in a 2016 World Health Organization(WHO) report, pollution is the leading cause of death and has killed more children in Nepal than the decade-long civil war. People barely come out of their houses without having a mask on. But using masks is not the

real solution of the problem. Article 30 of the Constitution of Nepal guarantees every citizen the right to live in a clean environment but thus far, nothing has been done to guarantee this so called right in the country’s very capital.

Way forward

The Department of Road (DoR) along with Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and Metropolitan Traffic Police Division (MTPD) has installed smart traffic lights at New Baneshwor and Maharajgung. It should be extended all over the city so that people are able to reach their destinations on time. The brick kilns in Kathmandu valley are deteriorating the air quality and the health of the people. Nepal should adopt environment-friendly technologies for the production of bricks. There are technologies like Vertical Shaft Brick Kiln, Fixed Chimney kilns in practice in India which are both environmentally friendly and economically sound. It would definitely ameliorate the pollution levels in the Valley. With viable changes, Kathmandu can once again be ‘Kathmandu’ instead of ‘Dhulomandu’. Besides this, government should plan the construction of roads in coordination with development planners and with a transparent budget, rather than it all being done in a disorganised and corrupt way.

The local level, provincial level and federal level elections have already been held. It’s high time to work for the betterment of people. The government has to make policies and act strongly to implement it. Along with the government, people are responsible too. Following the policies formulated by the government contributes a lot to make the city better. Together we can make the Kathmandu liveable again.