World Environment Day: Campaigners lay dead demanding right to clean air

World Environment Day: Campaigners lay dead demanding right to clean air

In a symbolic protest on the World Environment day, more than 200 activists, students, environmental campaigners, cyclists and pedestrians laid dead on the ground on Sunday, demanding the government take urgent action to ensure constitutional right to live in a healthy and clean environment.

The campaigners organised a flash mob in front of Rastriya Sabhagriha in Kathmandu, where people joined them and laid down on the ground to protest against the government inaction to control worsening environment.

Shreni Rajbhandary, organiser of the event, said that they have urged the government to declare Kathmandu Valley a ‘Mask-Must Zone’.

According to the Environment Performance Index 2016 prepared by Yale University in the US, Nepal is ranked 149 among 180 countries in terms of protecting human health and environment. Nepal also ranks 177 in terms of its air quality.

While cities around the world including neighboring countries are taking stringent action to improve air quality, Nepal is yet to prioritise air pollution as major public health issues and act accordingly, environment activist say.

Akash Shrestha, one of the campaigners, said, “World Health Organization (WHO) air quality report of 2016 have listed Kathmandu one of the most polluted cities in the world and that the air quality of Kathmandu is five times worse than WHO recommended guidelines.” Shrestha further added that they have started campaign #Maskmandu till the air quality in Kathmandu comes down as per National Air Quality Standards.

The campaigners have demanded government formulate ‘Comprehensive Clean Air Action Plan’, install air pollution monitoring stations in key locations of Kathmandu, devise stringent vehicle emission standard, promote non-motorised transport system, take action against contractors for delayed road construction that leads to dust pollution, take action to reduce industrial pollution especially from brick kilns, mobilise pollution tax immediately on pollution mitigation activities, among others.

The Campaign for Clean Air Rights (C-CAR), a petition that collects online signature, submitted its petition to the Ministry of Environment and Population during the official Environment Day cycle rally event of the government today.

The petition will also be submitted to Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Health, Kathmandu Metropolitan City and all Municipalities in Kathmandu Valley, this week.

Source: The Kathmandu Post