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Doctors, stakeholders call for collective move to lower air pollution

KATHMANDU:- Experts have expressed serious concern over the increasing level of air pollution in Kathmandu valley while calling for concerted efforts to lower it.
At a “Science-Policy Dialogue on Health Impacts of Air Pollution in Kathmandu Valley” organized today by the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), Department of Environment (DoEnv), World Health Organization (WHO) and Clean Energy Nepal (CEN), the experts viewed that the matter needs to be sensitized and called for new policies to control air pollution.
The purpose of the dialogue was to discuss the health impacts of air pollution among the stakeholders and measures required to address the problem of air pollution in the Kathmandu Valley.
On the occasion, Pulmonologist and Critical Care Specialist Arjun Karki pointed out lapses on effective implementation of policies and recommendations on the matter. Karki also laid emphasis to the build task force and make an alliance with academicians, professionals, activists and journalists to monitor the situation.
Likewise, Chairman of Nepal Medical Council and Cardiologist Bhagawan Koirala highlighted the need to generate voices against air pollution and enforce the existing policies. Koirala said that 40 per cent of respiratory disorder deaths and 25 per cent of cardiovascular deaths in Nepal are caused by air pollution.
On the dialogue, Prof. Jageshwor Gautam, Chief of Health Coordination Division and Spokesperson of MoHP, made commitment to address the health impacts caused by air pollution. Children, road-side workers, women and elderly people are the most vulnerable groups linked to air pollution, he added.
Similarly, WHO Nepal Representative Dr Rajesh S. Pandav stated that COVID-19 is linked to air pollution as it is also a respiratory disease, so people exposed to poor air quality are more susceptible to COVID-19.
Likewise, Prof Sanjay Nath Khanal, a consultant from CEN, shared the findings of WHO/Kathmandu University study in terms of averted deaths and life-year gains with the improvement in air quality based on policy interventions.
Also sharing her views, Director of Maternity and Women’s Hospital Dr. Sangeeta Kaushal Mishra said that women should be centered when talking about the health impacts of air pollution as they are more exposed and at double risk. “This risk affects their reproductive health because as per certain data preterm delivery is 18 per cent and low birth weight is 14 per cent in Nepal,” she stated.
She emphasized that the new studies have shown that a high level of pollution can affect the formation of eggs and even the sperms causing chances of infertility.
According to the organizers, around 110 participants joined the programme including the senior officials from different sectors through social networking sites.

Agreement made between protesting sugarcane farmers and government

KATHMANDU:- A four-point agreement has been made between the protesting sugarcane farmers and government. The sugarcane farmers from Terai belt had been protesting in Kathmandu since December 13 demanding their due payments from the sugar mill owners.
At a negotiation held at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies today, a four-point agreement was reached. According to the agreement, the sugar mill owners ought to pay the sugarcane farmers all their due payments within 21 days.
Ministry’s spokesperson Narayan Regmi shared that the disgruntled sugarcane farmers have agreed to return home following the agreement. The farmers had been protesting in Kathmandu for nearly a fortnight.
The sugar mill owners would be brought to justice if they fail to clear their dues to the farmers. While the sugarcane farmers claim that the sugarcane mill owners owe the farmers over Rs 920 million but the record at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies shows that the due payment amounts to Rs 650 million.

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