The Himalayan Times, Pramod Kumar Tandon, 24th March 2017, Kathmandu
Ratnapark has emerged as the second most polluted place in the country, according to the air quality monitoring report released by the Department of Environment.The Ratnapark-based air quality monitoring station recorded PM 2.5 at 109.08 micrograms per cubic metre on January 3 this year, whereas Lumbini recorded the highest PM 2.5 concentration at 173.03 micrograms per cubic metre on January 14.
“Data have shown that Ratnapark is the second most polluted place after Lumbini,” Senior Divisional Chemist at the department, Shankar Prasad, Paudel, told The Himalayan Times, adding that January was recorded as the most polluted month since the air quality monitoring practice began in the country.
The government had resumed air quality monitoring process by establishing a station at Ratnapark on August last year. Altogether five air quality monitoring stations are currently operational throughout the country.
Apart from the month of January, Ratnapark recorded PM2.5 at 144.19 micrograms per cubic metre in December against 93.71 micrograms per cubic metre in Lumbini.
The department said the cause behind pollution in Lumbini could be ascertained only after studying the pollution data of nearby Indian cities. He claimed Ratnapark might have been the victim of being located on a lower ground as all dust particles finally gather at the bottom. Air quality monitoring stations have also been set up in Pulchock, Chitwan and Dhulikhel in coordination with ICIMOD.
Meanwhile, DoE said that was preparing to set up four more air quality monitoring stations in Kathmandu Valley within the current fiscal. Though the exact locations are yet to be identified, the department is conducting feasibility study for three possible locations in the Valley. According to department additional stations will be installed in collaboration with ADB. The government had resumed air quality monitoring in the Kathmandu Valley by installing a station at Ratnapark on August 9 last year.
Besides, the government-run air quality monitoring stations in and outside Kathmandu Valley, Nepal also enjoys access to US Embassy Air Quality Monitor data. Although the practice of monitoring levels of air pollution began in Nepal in 2002 with the installation of seven air quality stations in the Valley by the Danish government, all stations were shut down by 2009.
After the stations were handed over to the Nepali government in 2008, the government entrusted the Environment and Public Health Organisation with managing the stations. A misunderstanding between the government and the ENPHO led to closure of the stations in 2009. The department is in the process of installing 56 stations throughout the country. According to the department, the station has been sending data regularly to the central sever since it came into operation. The station measures dust particles, especially particulate matter (PM 10) and PM 2.5 in the air.