Need for an Integrated Voice and Campaign for Environmental Protection- Bhushan Tuladhar, Environmentalist
For the last few days, smog has been covering the sky. Environmentalists have been saying that dust and smoke and fires in some places and air pollution in nearby Indian cities have affected the skies of Nepal. In this regard, INSEC Online Editor Ramesh Prasad Timalsina had a talk with environmentalist Bhushan Tuladhar. Here is a translated excerpt from a conversation with Tuladhar:
We are now in a vicious cycle. When the last time was that such a situation took place or when did we get stuck in this kind of situation?
The current environmental pollution is not new. Pollution has existed in Nepal before. It is likely to increase tomorrow. There are different forms of pollution. In a sense, smoke from Nepal’s kitchens has long been a major source of pollution. Perhaps it is these kitchens that are spoiling Nepal’s environment even now. Conventional fuels in the kitchen; the use of firewood, firewood only emits excessive pollution.
In the name of modernization, we have started using other fuels. Whether it is petrol used in motorcycles or coal used in industries. Pollution comes from burning any kind of fuel. And, it’s on the rise. Such pollution is happening mostly in urban areas. In urban areas, pollution is high and the number of people taking it is high. If we do not manage pollution in densely populated urban areas, the impact will be catastrophic. The amount of pollution has been increasing in big cities like Kathmandu for the past few decades.
The current fire is a seasonal effect and another is caused by fires across the country. Its impact has spread across the country. Due to the lack of rain and wind, it has become stagnant. As the source of pollution remains the same, it is important for us to focus on eliminating it. This year’s fires have also increased dramatically. The past is known to be the hottest in mid-April. The fire season has not started yet. The fire that broke out in 300 places at this time last year is now in 2,700 places. This is also due to climate change. Climate change causes excessive rainfall and drought. This it became dry for a long time.
The right to a clean environment has been ensured in the constitution. Is the government’s action plan in the right direction?
Not just clean but we require healthy environment. The right to environment is interrelated with public health. I can’t say there is no plan of the government. If the government has the responsibility to create a clean and healthy environment, then the citizens have the right to exercise that right. Citizens should also support the responsibility of the government. Kathmandu Valley Air Quality Management Action Plan 2076 is a plan passed by the Council of Ministers. The action plan passed by the Council of Ministers had to be implemented. It has not been fully implemented. There are environmental policies, climate change policies. Similarly, there is transport policy and clean energy promotion policy. We have also expressed our international commitment. However, there is a problem in the intention to implement the policy. Creating the conditions to invest and work by prioritizing the environment is an important need of the hour. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Transport belong to everyone. The environment is everyone’s topic of concern. Overall, this issue is interrelated with all ministries. The Government of Nepal should play a coordinating role with governmental, non-governmental and private sectors for the protection of the right to environment. That work is not happening right now.
What are the basic tasks that the government and the citizens have to do to enjoy the rights of the environment?
We have to take a closer look at the policies made by the government. Even if only 23,000 community forest user groups can be empowered, some success can be achieved in controlling fire. The government has to take the lead and invest in this issue. We have to understand the responsibilities of the citizens first. They have to pay attention to this issue. They have to take ownership of the environment. Since environmental pollution is usually caused by human activities, we have to work to reduce pollution as much as possible through our own activities. Everyone has to know how to survive if the environment is polluted. And, citizens have to raise their voices. It is the duty of a good citizen to raise his voice wherever he can. An integrated voice and campaign in favor of environmental protection automatically reduce pollution in the environment.
It is said that there is no snow in the mountains. How long will this condition remain?
The snow in the mountains has melted due to the rise in temperature. This is due to human activities. It can be reduced but not stopped. Changes in our daily lives can and must help in be minimizing it.
Is it possible to reduce it with the positive changes we bring in our daily life?
Yes, it is. We are the ones who will reduce it. We should start from today. The situation in our country is not so depressing. If we don’t do it now, we will be in trouble later. We are now in the development phase. At the same time, we need to come up with a far-sighted plan to prevent environmental adverse effects. We should all start this work at once from today. Let’s not delay now. Let’s save the environment and ourselves.
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