The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Urgent steps needed to curb Kabul air pollution


Between November and March, Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, is wrapped in a thick blanket of choking smog. As temperatures drop in high altitude, the city’s 6 million residents need to keep warm – but gasp for fresh air as a result.
Each winter, Kabul rises to the top of the list of the world’s most polluted cities, often surpassing India’s capital Delhi and China’s Beijing. Black smoke rises from many of the city’s homes, factories, brick kilns and public bathhouses fueled by coal, wood or – in the worst case – plastic and rubber tires. Old cars using cheap petrol only add to the thick toxic mix.
Culture of living in city as common home or the public awareness in regard to help the environment become clean is at its lowest. Waste is thrown everywhere and bothering voice is raised every time. The capital, itself, resembles a speaking dustbin and no tangible steps have been taken so far.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has earlier ordered a 10-day deadline for 22 relevant institutions including the National Environment Protection Agency, to take serious actions in the reduction of pollution. The security organs have also been tasked to take necessary measures against those violating the laws and are behind the increasing air pollution in the city.
In the latest efforts to check the menace, the Kabul police have closed down dozens of storage houses, where none-standard burning materials are being sold across the city. Some people burn worn tires, shoes, leathers and other plastic materials to heat their houses during the harsh winter, which further pollutes the air.
Meanwhile, electricity, most of which is imported from neighboring countries, is scarce in winters. In previous years, when power outages lasted for too long, an 80-megawatt power plant outside Kabul, fueled by heavy oil was used as a last option. 
The impact on residents’ health is also horrific. It’s less visible but in terms of a body count, far exceeds the lethality of the Taliban. By the time Kabul’s thermometers have dropped to below zero, its hospitals are overcrowded with patients struggling for breath.
No doubt air pollution has badly affected the Kabul residents which requires urgent attention of the organs concerned. As per the president’s instruction, those behind the air pollution in the capital city should be punished and introduced to the justice organs. No one should be allowed to endanger the life of common masses for their own interest.
Air-pollution crisis is not less important than fighting terrorism. The NEPA, Kabul Municipality and other line organs need to work with private sector for rehabilitation of forests, ban the import and use of substandard fuel, improve waste management and at the same time build and strengthen the institutional capacity.
It is also important to co-operate with the government in every aspect of issue to overcome the dilemmas and enjoy a life free of silent enemy such as air pollution and terrorist activities. The government is helpless to approach a conclusion in fighting against the silent enemy (air pollution) and terrorists, unless the people co-operate with it.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.