Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The Suffocating Air of Kabul

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The Suffocating Air of Kabul

Kabul residents encounter a myriad of challenges and air pollution is one of the most serious one. The pollution increases in winter as residents burn coal for heating. Thick columns of smoke are emitting from chimneys and no one, including the officials, take responsibility or care for the public health. Due to heavy fog, you will see only some meters away and breathe smoke and polluted air.
If you walk in Kabul streets in early morning or late evening, the heavy fog will fill your lung. The pollution is not only as a result of burning coal, but the brick kilns and old cars also pollute the air. Moreover, you will always see piles of trash on the sides of road and in streets since no trash cans are installed in cities by the municipality.
There are two major reasons behind the disorder and pollution in Kabul city. First, more than five million people live here which is beyond the capacity of this city. In such a case, the government is not able to provide the residents with facilities. The government even cannot afford to keep the city clean. Citizens also complain about basic necessities such as clean water and irregular electricity. Second, the constructions are not based on a map. The buildings are made without a plan. There are narrow streets with large number of buildings made in and the occupants simply throw their trash inside the streets.
Besides the terrible traffic system, the roads are too narrow but there are large number of vehicles. People use their private vehicles whenever they want and government poses no ban on old cars which pollute the air. If old cars were banned and people were not allowed to use their private vehicles all days, the amount of pollution could decrease to some extent.
On the other hand, the government’s negligence made citizens so careless about the sanitation or cleanness. They simply throw the trash on the streets and roads. Children and even old people urinate on the sides of roads in Kabul city. As citizens, they feel no sense of responsibility toward their environment and as if they do not belong to this city. This way, the future generation will also grow irresponsible. They are socialized in the same way, grow up in the same environment, and acquire the same sense of irresponsibility.
As a result of pollution and dirty water, the graph of patients is too high in Kabul. Drugstores are likely to be the busiest places in Kabul city. Doctors are as busy as bee treating the patients. After all, if you visit the embassies of neighboring countries, mainly India and Pakistan, you will see scores of people are applying for visa every day to be treated across the border. The low-quality drug in the country is a big trouble for citizens and compounded their challenges. To cut short, lack of clean water and unmitigated air pollution are the major reasons behind the widespread diseases.
It is more than a decade that the government has solved none of the challenges of Kabul residents. Officials simply postpone solving the problems from one year to the next. You will hear too many talks and mouth-watering promises from officials about facilities in Kabul, however, they are yet to be fulfilled. I can claim with full certainty that a single problem of Kabul residents has not be resolved within more than a decade. Although this city does not have enough capacity for that number of residents, at least one of the problems should have been solved within the past decade.
There is no rule in the city at all. For example, drivers stop and park their vehicles wherever they wish. Street vendors occupy everywhere in the city. They throw the garbage in the city, it is what the government allows them and installs no trash bin on the sides of the road.
The challenges of Kabul residents have been downplayed and turned a close eye by the government. In spite of the public complaints, the challenges remain as serious as ever. Kabul residents continue suffering from lack of access to clean water, clean environment, electricity, gas, etc. However, since officials’ feet do not touch the dusty and muddy streets of Kabul, they pay no attention to public troubles.
To mitigate the pollution in major cities, mainly in Kabul, the government will have to pay serious attention to the ongoing problems. The municipalities need to install trash bin on the sides of the road so that citizens could put their trash inside, this will arouse the sense of public responsibility toward the environment. If the government underestimates these challenges and does not care about the environment, citizens will remain irresponsible, too. To solve the root of the problems, there should be a plan for buildings and constructions.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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