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Dust. Can it be solved?

By Rujen Maharjan

Traffic polices are the ones obliged to stand in front of some of the worst traffic in the country and control them. This results in a major impact on their health making them much more vulnerable to respiratory and vision diseases in comparison to the common people. Even the youngest of the traffic polices have some symptoms of the diseases.

“There have been many impacts on the health of the traffic police. They are more vulnerable to lungs, eye and skin diseases. But even then, we have to fulfil our duties and responsibilities too,” says SP Mainali, spokesperson of the Nepal Traffic Police.

This is because of the increasing population in the valley and the increasing pollution by them. The dust and the smoke emitted by the vehicles are more than enough to affect the traffic polices. The roads of the Kathmandu Valley are always covered with dust. On January 25, 2018, Kathmandu’s air quality was declared as one of the worst. The pollution starts in the parts nearest to us like in the kitchen when the waste is not managed. The same garbage transforms collectively into a greater issue afterwards. We can see the garbage thrown even in the roadside. SP Mainali says, “This is a developing period. Various road expansion projects, drinking water pipes management process, etc. are being carried out. They cause pollution initially too.”

Photo: Safal Karki

According to him, there are various initiatives taken by the government to reduce pollution. But the main issue is that the government only implements the plans and measures but it’s the people who have to practice it. When anything begins, it requires continuity and everyone has a part to play from their own field. For example, there are various tree plantation programs conducted and the government encourages such programs. But the people and are the one who is supposed to plant a tree and take care of it. Trees plantation in an adequate amount can reduce the pollution up to twenty-four per cent. Another example is the Bagmati Cleaning Campaign. Mainali says, “It’s not the government who polluted the river. The people had their wastes thrown there and hence it has now become a bigger issue. So, even that waste management can reduce air pollution to some extent. People should conserve the environment taking it as their own.”

The precautions to reduce pollution or the traffic load other than planting trees and waste management can be taken in various levels. As cars and other old vehicles are the ones emitting harmful chemicals and smoke, trolley buses are one of the best option to control both the pollution and traffic load. Increase in the number of cycles also can reduce air pollution. But the condition of the roads, the dust and the smoke only discourages the bicycle riders.

Now, the direct precautions can also be taken by the traffic themselves. Masks can be used as a measure. According to Mainali, “There are almost 1300-1400 traffic police working in the Kathmandu Metropolitan City and now almost everyone is provided with two sets of special N-95 masks. The use of sunglasses is also being promoted in order to minimize the visionary diseases in the traffic police.

The other measure that can be taken in case of Nepal is the use of traffic lights. Previously, the traffic lights were instated in various places such as Narayan Gopal Chowk, Ghantaghar, etc. but as the population started growing and so did the number of vehicles, the traffic became hard to maange and eventually the use of the traffic lights had to be stopped. But now, its practice has been started. Mainali mentions some of the place where the use of traffic lights has been started. “Narayan Gopal Chowk, Ghantaghar, Naya Baneshwor Chowk are some of the places where the traffic lights are already in use. We have also sent a proposal to the higher authorities proposing for the instating of traffic lights in various areas like Maitidevi, Tripureshwor, Gwarko, Naya Bus Park, Babar Mahal, Chabehal, etc. where the traffic is a bit hard to control. Furthermore, we have, also, been planning to increase the Pedestrians Control Light in 16 more places like Gongabu, Bhat-bhateni, etc. It is already in practice in some of the places such as Putalisadak, Shanker Dev Campus. Besides that, CCTV monitoring is also being done and there is no less action taken to those who are seen breaking laws in such monitorings.”

The authorities show a positive expectation and also ensure that they are taking as much as they can. Actions like this reduce the traffic work load and not many people would be required in the field. So, the surplus workforce can be mobilized in other jobs and it also has a positive impact on the health of the traffic police. Let us wish for such a future.

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