KATMANDU, 24 AUGUST
The Auditor General’s Office revealed that the government of Nepal is reluctant to spend pollution control fees collected from consumers.
Section 13 (1) of the current Financial Law includes a provision that allows the government to levy a pollution charge of 1.50 rupees per liter on gasoline and diesel for sale or distribution in Nepal. According to the BVG’s 58th Annual Report (2019-20), recently submitted to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, the Ministry of Forests and Environment collected pollution abatement fees amounting to Rs 9.43 billion. 2008-09 fiscal year to 2019-20 fiscal year. Likewise, Rs 3.3 billion were collected during the 2019-2020 fiscal year alone.
The amount collected for pollution control costs was deposited in the government’s consolidated fund. “Despite raising such a huge sum, it does not appear to have been spent on air pollution prevention and control.
The government is obligated to spend the fees only for the purpose for which they were collected, ”suggested the OAG.
Citizens have not been able to enjoy their fundamental right to live in a clean and healthy environment as guaranteed by the constitution.
Pollution is one of the most worrying problems in Nepal, especially in the Kathmandu Valley and other urban areas.
The government has already released the Kathmandu Valley Air Quality Management Action Plan 2020 to ensure the fundamental right of citizens to live in a clean and healthy environment, but it is not put implemented effectively. “The Kathmandu Valley with clean and healthy air” as the vision of the action plan.
The action plan set eight goals to achieve the vision, which include reducing outdoor pollution generated or emitted by the transport and construction sectors, industrial enterprises and household waste; reduction of indoor pollution; awareness of the state of air pollution, its causes, its potential impact on public health and mitigation and prevention measures; develop a decision support system for air quality management; management of air pollution in emergency situations; and secure financial resources for air pollution control by strengthening policy, legal and institutional frameworks, among others.
However, the OAG found that the government was lacking in efforts to control pollution through proper use of the amount collected as pollution control fees.
Nepal’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard set the standard for particles with an aerodynamic size less than 10 micrometers called PM10 and particles with an aerodynamic size less than 2.5 micrometers called PM2.5. The national standards for PM2.5, PM10 and total suspended particles are 230, 120 and 40 respectively.
On the contrary, the air pollution in the city of Kathmandu is several times higher than the standard set by the World Health Organization and the government of Nepal.
According to a recent report released by the National Human Rights Commission, unmanaged construction of physical infrastructure contributed the most in terms of airborne PM2.5 concentration covering 53 percent, followed by emissions vehicles (30 percent), brick kilns (nine percent), indoor smoke (five percent) and factories, and open burning of waste one percent each.
A version of this article appears in print August 25, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.