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EPA springs into action against big polluters in Kabul

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KABUL: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would henceforth take serious measures against air polluters on every level in compliance with the recent presidential decree, relevant officials said on Sunday.

Laila Samani, spokesperson for the agency, said the alerting phase for polluters had come to an end and the EPA had currently swung into action against them.

“We still have chance and our drive would continue until the end of March next year. The least we can do now is to reduce pollution to some extent. We have formed four committees to deal with the situation, in addition to spreading awareness through mosques. The Kabul Municipality is also cooperating in this regard.”

This campaign included spreading awareness, shutting down public bathhouses, preventing old and smoke-emitting vehicles, and bringing to a close the operations of factories or those townships which contribute to air pollution, she said.

However, a number of citizens of Kabul lamented the government’s action now, saying it was very late for the government to be able to prevent and reduce pollution.

Mohammad Saleh, a resident of the capital city, said he suffered from common cold over the past three months due to the low quality of air in Kabul. “It’s too little, too late. The government cannot control the strongmen who import coal, township owners and even public bathhouses’ proprietors. This is while the poor people have no other choice, other than using coal because there is no electricity, and petrol and gas prices are surging.

This is while the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Information and Culture have hinted at launching a campaign of issuing health masks to 200,000 citizens of the capital. Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani had previously issued a decree and warned big polluters, saying they would face severe punishment in case of violation.

This comes as air pollution, which has worsened with the arrival of winter, is threatening the lives of millions of people in over-populated Kabul city. A recent assessment by Air Visual – an international service that provides online pollution updates – reports that Kabul has been in the top four of the world’s most polluted cities over the past months.

Air Visual has rated Kabul air as “hazardous” on many nights over the past several weeks. Officials said the pollution is due to the use of low-quality materials used for fuel by Kabul residents and some townships around the city. 

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