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«His Majesty's Government Ministry of Population and Environment Kathmandu, Nepal June 2000 Ministry of Population and Environment 1 State of the ...»

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The petrol and diesel fuel generally available in the market is of substandard quality which contains low octane and high content of lead and carbon has also contributed to the increasing air pollution. Poor vehicle maintenance has further compounded the problem as it does not allow for full combustion of the fuel. Most of the lead in the air is in the form of fine particles of less than 2?. Bhattarai and Shrestha (1981) reported a direct correlation between the heavy vehicular traffic and lead concentration in soil (dust particles) which was higher than 300 PPM. It is thus apparent that lead concentration in the streets of Kathmandu are many folds higher than the background value found in normal soil (0.01 PPM for garden soil).

Recent studies also show that the lead content in the ambient air quality of Kathmandu city varies from 0.18?g/m3 (Maharajgunj) to 0.53?g/m3 (around Ministry of Population and Environment 53 State of the Environment Report, 2000

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When solid particles containing lead is inhaled, they are trapped in the lungs resulting in the accumulation of lead in the blood system. As lead is neurotoxic, long-term exposure to a high level of lead in blood can lead to Ministry of Population and Environment 54 State of the Environment Report, 2000 adverse effect on blood formation, vitamin metabolism and neurological systems. About 152 tempo drivers, both smokers and non-smokers, were tested over a span of three weeks to identify the impact of air pollution. The study revealed significant differences between the exposed and the control group smokers on cough, breathlessness and nasal symptoms (Shrestha, 1993).

Sporadic studies have also been conducted to assess the level and impact of indoor pollution on human health in Nepal. One of the studies indicated the prevalence of chronic bronchitis to be a maximum of 29.0 per cent in Jumla (Mid-Western Development Region), and 8 per cent in the mid-hill region of urban Kathmandu (Pandey et al., 1985). The study further also revealed that women spend about 20 per cent of their work time in cooking related activities, and are thereby exposed to smoke with all the consequences of acute respiratory tract infection, chronic bronchitis and cor pulmonale. Indoor pollution in industries also poses a considerable threat to the health of workers.

2.8.2 Water Pollution

Water pollution through natural processes is insignificant in Nepal.

Domestic sewage and industrial effluents are the major contributors of water pollution. Haphazard urbanisation and inadequate sewerage facilities have accelerated the discharge of domestic liquid wastes without any treatment. Almost all the urban areas have no wastewater treatment facilities. The cumulative effects of wastewater discharge have a striking negative impact, particularly, in the rivers flowing through the Kathmandu Valley. The holy river Bagmati is biologically dead due to discharge of such domestic and industrial wasters, particularly in the stretch flowing through urban areas.

Biological contamination is generally noticed in the supplied drinking water as well. Frequent incidence of water-borne diseases indicates the deterioration of the drinking water quality in both urban and rural areas.

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With a concentration of 56.76 per cent of total manufacturing establishments, the Central Development Region (CDR) is found to be the most busy region in manufacturing activities. The region shares 70.54 per cent of the total employees, and 73.04 per cent of total wages and salaries.

It has also shared 76.04 per cent of the total value added with 66.84 per cent of input and 70.5 per cent of the total output.

In contrast to the CDR, the Far-Western Development Region (FWDR) shares only 3.74 per cent of the total number of manufacturing establishments.

Localised industrial pollution is also on the rise. Wastewater is directly discharged on to the terrestrial and aquatic systems without any treatment.

The wastewater generally contains a high load of oxygen demanding wastes, disease causing agents, synthetic organic compounds, plant nutrients, inorganic chemical and minerals, and sediments (Devkota and Neupane, 1994). The general scenario of industrial pollution in Nepal based on the Industrial Census of 1991/92 is presented in Annex 9. Total industrial wastes have been estimated at 0.076 million tons of TSP, 8.557 million cubic meter of wastewater, 5.7 thousand tons of BOD, 9.6 thousand tons of TSS and 22 thousand tons of solid wastes. Industrial TSP release in the Kathmandu Valley exceeds the total load discharged in all other development regions. A recent sample survey of 36 industries throughout the Kingdom revealed that the population equivalent (PE) of industrial effluent ranges from 416 to 9,540 (Devkota, 1997; Table 2.8.3). It is generally accepted that local human PE is about 50 gram per day.

The total solid waste generated by different industries is estimated to be 22,000 tons. In general, the major solid waste generating industries are leather, canning, sugar and distillery. Most of the wastes generated are of biodegradable nature with the exception of plastic, rubber and bottles, which can be recycled or reused.

Air pollution has been a major concern in urban areas such as Kathmandu, Biratnagar and Birgunj. Both vehicular and industrial air pollution is on the increase. Absence of long-term data has limited defining trend of definite trend on air pollution, even in Kathmandu Valley. Limited data and experience p revents implementation of pollution control measures in the valley. If this trend continues, it is likely that other urban areas of Nepal will have to face similar consequences.

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Ministry of Population and Environment 57 State of the Environment Report, 2000 Although urbanisation and industrial development is at an infancy stage, water pollution is rapidly increasing in most of the areas of the country, both in urban and rural areas. Water quality is degraded through the discharge of untreated domestic wastewater and industrial effluents.

Continued efforts are required to minimise pollution load through the enforcement of pragmatic standards for specific types of industries, provision of incentives for use of cleaner technologies, and effluent treatment facilities. Industries should also be promoted to comply with the environmental regulatory measures. Industrial operators should also be encouraged to minimise the waste load through good house keeping practices, appropriate water management, stocking of required raw materials, optimum use of chemicals, and adoption of recovery and reuse process and complying with discharge standards.

2.9 Noise Level

Though noise pollution does not cause direct damage to the environment, however, like other sources of pollution, it can affect human health physically and psychologically either by causing permanent damage or by reducing efficiency in urban areas. Surface transportation is the predominant source of high noise level. Power tillers, buses, heavy trucks and three- wheelers (tempos) are found to be significant contributors to the high noise pollution in municipal areas. Old and poorly maintained automobiles further aggravate the noise pollution problem causing significant health problems. Findings indicate the highest noise level (101.9 dB) to prevail in high traffic areas such as Singha Durbar. The mean values of noise level for low traffic areas range from 67.67 dB to 75.21 dB in public places, and 74.52 dB for residential cum commercial area (Sapkota et al., 1997) ( Table 2.9.1). Excessive noise levels are the result of inadequate mufflers fitted in vehicles, increasing number of old and noisy two-stroke vehicles, heavy -traffic congestion and use of pressure horn.

The level of noise produced in industries depends on the type of machines and processes adopted. Sporadic studies indicate fairly high indoor noise levels (Shrestha & Shrestha, 1985; Miyoshi, 1987). Out of the 125 industries surveyed, the noise levels were higher in textile, cement, paper, marble, iron, steel, sugar, leather and jute industries (NECG, 1991).

Miyoshi (1987) reported a range of 100 dBA in some industries such as Balaju Kapada Udhyog, Balaju Autoworks, Aluminium Industry, Timila Metal Co., Hulas Steel Industry, Hetauda Cement, Khadya Udhyog and Himal Cement which exceed the international safety standard.

Furthermore, high noise level has been experienced through mike related activities.

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In sum, noise level is also on the increase in the municipal and industrial areas. Though the impact of high noise level on human health has not been correlated, yet it is likely to be a major concern in the near future.

This calls for the adoption of stringent road traffic system at least during the peak hours, implementation of air and noise quality standard, and launching awareness programmes on their impacts on human health.

2.10 Agriculture 2.10.1 Crop Production Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Nepal. Over 80 per cent of the total population still depends on agriculture for subsistence living.

Based on the available information on land use, about 21 per cent of the total land in the country is cultivated. About 1.7 million ha. of agriculture land is rainfed, which accounts for almost 65 per cent of the total cultivated land. On an average, the Terai (plains) comprises of about 43 per cent of total cultivated land, while the remaining land lies in other physiographic zones. The distribution of agricultural land is highly skewed, with 16.1 per cent of the farmers owning 62.8 per cent of land. Half of the farm holdings are below 0.5 ha., averaging a mere 0.15 ha. Small farmers clearly dominate the Nepalese agriculture.

Crops grown in Nepal are broadly divided into two groups, namely, food and cash crops. The main food crops are paddy, maize, wheat, potato, millet, barely and pulses. Among these crops, paddy occupies about 55 per cent of the total land. Approximately 80 per cent of the paddy is produced in the Terai region. Maize, millet and potato are basically hill crops. Other food crops are cereals, pseudo-cereals, tuber crops and pulses. The main cash

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The cropping system, whether irrigated or rainfed, depends on land type and the physiographic region. The major cropping patterns in various types of land in different physiographic regions indicates that the dominant cropping patterns in the hills and plains are maize-based and rice-based respectively. Pulses like black-gram, soybean and pigeon pea are also grown on paddy bunds in the lowlands. A typical crop rotation in the middle hills differs from year to year. In the first year the cultivation of upland rice is followed by blackgram, while during the second year the relay crops are maize and millet. The same crop rotation pattern is repeated during the subsequent years. This kind of indigenous cropping system developed by farmers in the Middle Hills is suitable for maintaining soil fertility and providing fodder.

Contribution of the agricultural sector in the gross domestic product (GDP) was about 69 per cent in 1974/75. This declined to 52 per cent in 1987/88 and 40 per cent in 1997/98 (MOF, 1999). Most of the cereal and cash crops indicated an increasing trend during the FY 1998/99.

In FY 1999, the output of the principal cereal crops in the country was estimated to be 6.46 million ha with an increase by 2 per cent from the previous year (MOF, 1999). The trend in the production of major cereal crops with agriculture inputs is shown in the following figures. However, there is an increasing trend in the production of cash crops such as sugarcane. In spite of increased irrigation facilities, and use of other agriinputs, the decline or increase n yield rate is determined by weather i condition. Adverse weather conditions result in the decline of production of both cereals and cash crops.

The amount of food available per capita has been declining. While an increasing number of districts are experiencing food deficits, the gap between food requirements and consumption is increasing. The cultivated areas of most food grains have also been increasing.

However, different types of chemical fertilisers (organic and inorganic chemicals) are unproportionately used for cultivation. Consumption of chemical fertilisers began to increase progressively after 1980s from about 7 kg NPK/ha/yr. in FY 1979/80 to 25 kg NPK/ha/yr. in FY 1992/93.

Ministry of Population and Environment 60 State of the Environment Report, 2000 Similarly, the use of pesticides is also on the increase. About 250 types of pesticides, 40 types of herbicides and different fungicides are used to minimise the loss of agriculture production from pests and insects.

However, in spite of high doses of agri-inputs, agriculture production increase has not been significant. For example, the yield rates of paddy indicate slight increase from 1.98 mt/ha. to 2.42 mt/ha. with significant variations between 1974/75 to 1998/99. For maize, it has been on the decline from 1.81 mt/ha. to 1.71 mt/ha. during the same period. However, the yield rate of wheat has slightly increased from 1.14 mt/ha. to 1.55 mt/ha. In sum, considering the base year as 1974/75 (100) the yield rate of principal food crops has reached 111 mt/ha. in 1998/99. During this period the food crop area increased by 1 million ha, and total production by 2.5 million tons (MOF, 1999).

Figure 6. General Trend in Production of Cereal Crops Source : MOF, 1999

Ministry of Population and Environment 61 State of the Environment Report, 2000 Cash crops occupy a small percentage of the total cultivated area. Over the last few years cash crop production increased between 5.8 and 2.6 per cent during the fiscal year 1994/95 and 1995/96 respectively. In case of principal cash crops (sugarcane, oil seed, tobacco, potato and jute), the area increased by 140 thousand ha with over four-fold production (670 to 2,782 thousand mt) during the period 1974/75 and 1998/99. The yield rate for all crops is also on the increase with fluctuations in different years, indicating the fluctuations in agri-inputs and climatic conditions.

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