Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Environmental Pollution – An Unattended Dilemma

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Environmental Pollution – An Unattended Dilemma

With the growing population and congestion in the urban areas of the country, the problem of environmental pollution is getting more serious. The air sur rounding us, from which everyone gets his/her share of oxygen is getting more polluted with each passing day. Moreover, as there is no proper sewarage system and waste disposal system the situation is detriorated 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.

The problem of air pollution is very much rampant in the urban areas of the country; especially Kabul city has been suffering because of this menace to a worrying extent. 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.

NEPA has even suggested that the use of masks should be made frequent in order to be secure from the contiminations 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 maintainance 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 doesn't 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.

Most of the vehicles running on the roads use the same type of fuel as there is no system of check and balance by the traffic police. According to the estimations made by NEPA, about 75% of air pollution is from emision by various vehicles and about 3,000 deaths occur per year as a result of air pollution. Further the fact that Kabul city is a valley, wherein in winter, because of thermal inversion, very small amount of pollutants, containing such dangerous gases as nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide, is able to get dispersed in the outer atmosphere, therefore, the air pollution increases and cast dangerous effects.

In order to control the impacts of emission from transportation government has taken an initiative by announcing Thursday as an off day for public sector, yet the initiative has not been able to make the situation better as even on Thursdays the flow of the traffic remain congested as the people use the official vehicles to come out of their houses and move in the city for different purposes. Apart from that, there is a very neglible 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. NEPA has also made the claim that land mafia is in the front row for carrying on such activities. The only thing they care for is a large sum of money they can earn in return for the land, not its proper and legitimate use so that it should be beneficial for environment at the same time. A part from the fact that there is rampant deforestration, there is no special program or plan for growing trees in the areas that are atleast outside the residential and commercial areas.

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 mosquitos 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. NEPA, since its establishment in 2005, has been functioning as a government authority for the protection of environment, but it is not doing as much as it should. 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. Laws, unless implemented, are of no use. Severe penalties should be charged against those who choose for irresponsible behavior regarding the protection of environment publically. Traffic system along with the facilities to have proper check and balance system against the dangerous emissions by vehicles should be put in action.

Low-grade fuel should be banned all together. And extensive growth of trees should be made possible immediately. Second, NEPA must carryout 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 by NEPA, 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.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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