Kathmandu [Nepal], January 5 (ANI): For the second day in a row, a thick layer of smog enveloped the Nepal capital Kathmandu. Visibility in the valley went down dramatically in the last two days with the Air Quality Index shown by the US Embassy in the capital remaining over 300 which means "hazardous".
As a sudden drop in mercury settled down atmospheric pollutants, the Department of Environment requested people not to come out without genuine reasons.
Issuing a press statement late on Tuesday afternoon, the department said, "Children, elderly and those with respiratory problems are subjected to severe impact if exposed in the present situation. It is specially requested with them and all to adopt proper precautions against the growing air pollution in the valley while venturing outside."
The department also stated that the air quality in other major cities like Nepalgunj and Biratnagar will be deteriorating and people should be cautious.
The fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) stood at 330.8 micrograms per cubic metre (mg/m3) at around 7:45 PM (Local Time) while the PM10stood at 368.8 micrograms per cubic metre (mg/m3) at the same time as per AQI by the American Embassy in capital Kathmandu.
The PM 2.5 levels of more than 150mg/m3 are considered extremely dangerous for human health, and people are recommended to stay indoors. Overall air quality index of the Valley today stood at 437mg/m3 - the worst in the world, according to IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company.
"I took a ride on a bike from my office to home last evening. I felt that my eyes were burning as I was sitting on the back seat of a motorbike. It seemed as if someone hurled chili powder into my eyes. I wasn't aware of what might have caused it. Later I came to know that pollution in the Capital has increased tremendously. In addition to that, Kathmandu is a valley. As there is no proper sunshine, the dust particles would settle down on the surface with increasing coldness. It results in burning in the eyes and tears rolling down more often," Pushpa Subedi, a resident of Kathmandu, told ANI.
In order to address the problem, the government earlier had introduced a provision that allows authorities concerned to declare an air pollution emergency whenever the air quality index goes over 300 (mg/m3). However, none of the concerned authorities has sent out a signal in this regard as the nation is reeling through the COVID-19 pandemic where pollution might worsen complexities among infected ones.
AQI is a composite measurement of the concentration of particulate matter below 10 and 2.5 microns, carbon monoxide, sulphur and nitrogen dioxide and ground ozone.
AQI level between 0-50 is 'Good', 51-100 is 'Moderate', 101-150 is 'Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups', 151-200 is 'Unhealthy', 201-300 is 'Very Unhealthy', and anything above 301 is regarded as 'Hazardous'.
Reeling above the mark of 300, Kathmandu is expected to get rid of smog only after heavy rainfall. Kathmanduites rejoiced in the clean and green city during the lockdown last year. Several Himalayan ranges could be seen from the valley.
The rise in pollution level has turned the once clean and clear sky of Kathmandu grey, adding to the miseries of residents. (ANI)