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Air pollution; big challenge to Kabul residents

By: Lailuma Noori

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has instructed the Environment Protection Agency (NEPA) to draw up an effective plan to prevent air pollution in Kabul where the people have repeatedly raised their concern over increasing of air pollution in the city.
Chaired a meeting held the other day at Presidential Palace with participation of officials of NEPA and other relevant institutions, President Ghani ordered clear instructions to prevent air pollution in the city.
In the meeting, the country’s President expressed unhappiness over works of National Environment Protection Authority and said he would then chair the commission.
Installing continuous air pollution measuring and monitoring facilities next week in Kabul, which has become one of the world’s most populated cities.
The president asked the authorities concerned to meet every second day to evolve a strategy for curbing air pollution, the statement added.
President Ghani also asked the NEPA to share its plan for the purchase of pollution-gauging equipment with the Ministry of Finance. The agency was also asked to present its recommendations for the five most-polluted cities at the next meeting.
The country’s President ordered the agency personnel to meet owners of brick-kilns, a major pollutant and submit comprehensive recommendations for dealing with the challenge in 10 days.
He sought proposals from residents of the five most polluted cities on the use of solar energy and minimizing reliance on burning inferior-quality coal.
The president stressed concrete pollution-curbing measures must yield effective results over the next three months.
In the meeting, A senior NEPA official, Eng. Ezatullah Siddiqui, presented a report on implementation of plans for controlling pollution.    
He offered a number of recommendations for curbing the air pollution, including two holidays in the winter and a check on the entry of heavy loaded vehicles into the capital.
Siddiqui also called for raising public awareness on the issue, the use of masks, stabilization of liquefied gas prices to discourage the use of coal and plantation of saplings.
According to recent report of the ministry of public health, air pollution-related diseases have increased by 5 percent this year, and it called on relevant organizations to take the necessary measures before pollution impacts more lives.
In the meantime, assessment by Air Visual, a US and Swiss-based software company measuring air pollution, indicates that the air quality in Kabul has reached a “hazardous” level, and this has put the city at the top of the world’s “most polluted cities” list. Based on NEPA standards, air pollution shouldn’t exceed 75 micrograms in one cubic meter, but in the past few days the level of air pollution has been at least three times as much as this. According to Air Visual, air pollution levels in some parts of the city have risen to a standard of 247 micrograms per cubic meter. 

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The Kabul Times.