Friday, November 25, 2016
Combating air pollution has never been a priority of the Nepali political class or of our government
We had just entered the doctor’s room when he asked, “What happened to him again?” “Cough and fever,” I said. “He coughs like hell. Cannot sleep the whole night.”
The doctor examined the patient, prescribed new medicines and handed us the slip while informing all this was happening because of dust and air pollution. Hundreds of such cases are reported every day.
My child, Aarav, was ill and this was the third time in a month that I was visiting hospital for the same illness. Every time, I found more children with similar problems. Even I have gone to hospital for the same illness. The doctor suggested that I use a mask. It hasn’t helped. Masks, it seems, have lost the power to prevent you from Kathmandu’s dust.
According to a physician at Alka Hospital, “Apart from dusty roads, mechanical pollution is destroying our lungs.” He believes outdated and pollution-friendly vehicles are plying the streets. It reminded me of one of my investigative stories that revealed how vehicles were getting ‘green sticker’ by paying anywhere between Rs 100 and Rs 500 in place of the official rate of Rs 35 a vehicle. Many public vehicles in Kathmandu have never passed a green test. It was surprising to see officials of different vehicle committees visiting ‘green sticker providing office’ with bag full of ‘blue books’ and, of course, wads of money.