Editor in Chief: Dr. Hussain Yasa Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

Environmental Degradation in Kabul

There are serious concerns in Kabul about the debilitating condition of environment and tranquility. Since there has been a sharp and an uncontrolled influx of people in the city, the administration and authorities, in response, have not been able to manage matters. This has given rise to the issues of lawlessness and environmental degradation.
The crimes in the city seem to be increasing and same is the case with traffic jams and traffic issues. There are clear indications that the city is trying to compensate more people that it has the potential of and coupled with that is the incapacity of the government to administer the city properly. The city does not look like a capital city at all, and there are many areas that need immediate attention and speedy actions.
According to Numbeo website, that collects data based on the observations made by the people who visit the site, the level of crime in Kabul city is 77.27, which is high as the score is measure out of 100. Some other scores like, worries about being mugged or robbed (79.17), worries about home broken or things stolen (77.08), worries about car stolen (85.42) and violent crimes such as assault and armed robbery (75.00) are also very high. On the face of these problems, the city administration has no clue about how to manage the issues. Law enforcement agencies, particularly police, have not been able to control the situation properly and they have no strategic approach to counter these issues. Lack of timely justice in the city has further encouraged the criminals and made the situation worse.
The other issue that has remained unattended in the city in the light of increasing population and prevailing carelessness is issue of environmental degradation. City’s environment has degraded to an alarming level and people are suffering from different diseases because of pollution. Land, water and air pollution are all present in the atmosphere and influencing the residents. Piles of garbage can be found at different places without proper administration. They remain there for a long period of time and in many cases start releasing toxic material within the environment and many of them are within the residential areas; and many children and animals can be found playing on them.
The situation has been further deteriorated by the absence of a proper sewerage system. At different places within the city, water from drains could be observed overflowing and covering the roads, which are mostly in pathetic condition and further add fuel to the fire. And, if there is a rainfall, the situation gets even worse and many parts of the city are converted into ponds of dirty water.
Air pollution in the city is mostly because of the low quality fuel that is used by the people both for their vehicles and for burning at their homes. A large number of people use patrol and diesel that are smuggled in the city in different ways and there is no quality check on them. While, as most of the people are financially weak, they burn low quality coal and other stuff to keep themselves warm, especially during the winter season. The level of pollution in the air can be best observed during the winter season when smoke covers the whole environment like fog and constitute the air that people inhale. Many observations have shown that the air in Kabul is really dangerous for health and many doctors suggest people to use masks so as to be safe.
Unavailability of clean water is another major problem in the city and it is going to turn into a serious one because of the consistent rise in population of the city. People drink water which they dig out through wells and as the number of wells dug are on the rise, the water level seems to be going down. The issue is further intensified by the low level of snowfall in the city. This year, there has not been any snowfall yet, though a quarter of winter season has already passed. Moreover, the water that is dug out of the wells contains elements that can prove dangerous for health but there is no mechanism to distill that water. And that water is also contaminated in few cases by the wells that are dug for the wastes from toilets.  

It is really important for the authorities to divert their attentions towards these issues as they are influencing people to an uncontrollable manner. Those members of the society who have the understanding of these grave issues must put pressure on the government to take necessary action. In an encouraging move on Saturday, December 31, Parliament Members (MPs) demonstrated outside parliament building over government’s inaction to control the sharp rise in pollution over Kabul city. They mentioned that high level of pollution is causing serious health problems for residents and emphasized that the government must make tangible efforts to deal with the serious situation as it had previously promised.  
People as a whole must have awareness about such issues and put pressure on the government authorities to divert their attentions to the matter of providing better living conditions for the people, particularly, a tranquil and clean environment. And, the government needs to realize that if these issues are left unattended they have the potential of becoming more serious than the issue of insecurity.