Himalayan magazine

January/February ms HIMAL The Day Before

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January/February ms HIMAL

The Day Before 4 May 1994, 4:30 pm

The view from Champadevi hill. An afternoon thunderstorm has just washed Kathmandu Valley's atmosphere, with only the Chobar cement factory's chimney plume indicating that all is not well.

The Morning After 5 May 1994, 9:30 am

both pictures, RAJIV CHANDRA

The lethal air within this cauldron is what Kathmandu's inhabitants breathe during much of the winter. Temperature inversion keeps the atmosphere socked in, allowing the dust, smoke and gases from industries, brick kilns, motor vehicles, and constructions to generate a witch's brew. The smog could be mistaken for Kathmandu's winter fog, but it is already late in spring.

HIMAL January/February 1995


In the lean months, the Bagmati is just a sewer. Its flow is so diminished at the Aryaghat cremation grounds that the ashes, spent firewood, and flowers from funeral pyres do not even make it downstream.

A RIeksa to Swayambhu

From alar, Swayambhu's all-seeing eyes look down

upon Bishnumati —a landscape that has become

unrecognisable within a decade.

AWistoiy of Filth

JGsthmaridu filth^not a recent phenomenon. The valley towns were already dirty more than a century ago, according Western travelers' reports. Presented here is aselestitm, compiled by Abana Onta*

ins of the Road

The worst affected by air pollution in Kathmandu are

these young conductors who perch at the back of the

Vikram Tempos. As the three wheelers make their rounds,

they breathe in carbon-laden deisel exhaust as well as the

dust and gases of Kathmandu's busiest thoroughfares.

Very narrow, mere lanes iti fact; and.-the whole town iavery dirty. Inevery lane there is a stagnant ditch, full of putrid mud, and no attempt is eveir made to clean these thoroughly. Thestreets,it is true, are sweptin the centre, and part ^fthefilthfc carried'offby the sellers ofmanure; fcuttodean the draws would nowteimpQSsiblewith out knockiiigdowntheentiirecity^asthewholegrourid issaturatedwithfiltTi... Thehousesare generally built in the form of hollow sqttarts, opening off the streets bylow doorways; andthese eetitral courtyards are l^ of ten only receptacles for rubbish of every sort. In short, from a saw tary point of view, Kathmandu may be said to be built on a dunghill in themiddle of latrines.

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