Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, January 18th, 2019

Kabul Threatened by Pollution

The concerns regarding growing pollution in the capital Kabul are multiplying as no serious measures are in place to control it. The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday, January 09, warned that unless the high level of pollution in Kabul is reduced, the health of thousands of city residents will be threatened.

It is said that as many as 3,000 people in Afghanistan lose their lives annually due to illnesses caused by poor air pollution. And, 700,000 people in Kabul have been treated for respiratory problems in local hospitals – respiratory problems caused by pollution.

This is really alarming as there are many other problems as well that are taking the lives of the poor civilians in the country. Moreover, pollution is a problem in the capital for the last some years, but no serious strategy is in place to control it. The negligence has caused the issue to reach to a threatening stage.

The air in Kabul has been announced as highly dangerous for people both by national and international authorities. National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) considers Kabul’s air vulnerable and fears that it can cause eyes, lungs and skin diseases, including cancer. There are many other factors of pollution as well which require special attention and can only be avoided by following certain standards that are set by the standard authorities.

Because of the increasing air pollution within Kabul city NEPA has even suggested that the use of masks should be made frequent in order to be secure from the contamination mostly exhausted by vehicles. Kabul city is dominantly marked with the flow of a congested traffic mostly including various types of cars. Most of these cars are not registered and do not have to pass any maintenance test or quality checkup before they get within the traffic. Further, the fuel used by these cars is not of high quality. Most of the times, the fuel does not come from the petrol stations rather they are provided by the suppliers on the road sides and small shops where the petrol and diesel are kept in water buckets and tanks. They do not go through any process of purification and contain large number of harmful particle including lead.

Moreover, as there is no proper sewerage system and waste disposal system the situation is deteriorated further. Even the latrine system in the country is not up to the mark and really requires great attention in order to be environmentally safe. The issue of clean drinking water is another great concern, bothering the people to a large extent. Burning of low quality fuel in the large quantity by every sort of vehicle, and burning of wood and coal for household and other purposes add dangerous contamination in our environment continuously. All these add to the problems which have never been tackled properly both because of lack of awareness and inconsideration.

Apart from that, there is a very negligible arrangement for parks and greenery in the city. Most of the green areas of the city have not been cared for and they are becoming a part of residential and commercial buildings with the sacrifice of greenery.

Along with air pollution the land and water pollution in Afghanistan, especially in urban areas are getting serious as well. The drainage system in the urban areas is still not developed properly or it is left with serious deficiencies. The drains that carry the water containing waste material from household and other uses are not covered. Even in the capital Kabul, the drains are not covered. Rather they have become dustbins for the people. The people throw the wrappers, plastic bags, papers and other waste materials in the drains without any hesitation or humiliation.

Most of the times the drains are blocked by the excessive dirt; and the dirty water flows out of the drains on the roads, generating disgusting smell and inviting different types of insects. The same water then dries and the dirt along with the dust particles fly in the air because of the passing vehicles and the same air is inhaled by the passersby. Further, the ponds of dirty water are refuge for mosquitoes and flies and other insects. These insects are really dangerous for spreading serious epidemics. And such issues are never dealt seriously even in the most developed of the cities.

The issue of environmental pollution should be dealt appropriately both by people and government of Afghanistan before it is too late. Any program regarding environmental protection should be two-fold. First, the government must introduce laws and the mechanism to enforce them. Since, the introduction of nation’s first environmental law in 2005, no remarkable development has been made in chalking out the mechanism to enforce them. Low-grade fuel should be banned all together. And extensive growth of trees should be made possible immediately.

Second, concerned authorities should facilitate thorough awareness programs, which should penetrate among the residents of the country, so that they should be fully aware of the actions they carryout in deteriorating the environment. Workshops, Advertisements, Debates, Lectures and other techniques for furthering awareness campaigns must be carried out, especially in the urban areas of the country. Further, environmental awareness literature can be included in the syllabus of the students so that they from the very beginning of their lives should adopt a very responsible way of life. Environment is a collective and natural property of all the living beings and it must be protected collectively.