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Maintaining air quality
Kinley Wangmo, Kuensel (13 Aug 2004 19:24:02 CDT BST)

BHUTAN: With its pristine environment still intact, Bhutan has good air quality but rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and growth in vehicle numbers could destroy it according to a visiting environment specialist.

"The government has taken steps towards monitoring air pollution by providing better quality fuel, using hydropower, conducting emission tests, and banning import of reconditioned vehicles," said environment specialist Derek Langgons who conducted a five day training on air quality management in Thimphu from August 9.

"Still indicators such as industrialisation and population growth reminds us that air pollution would substantially rise in future and should be anticipated."

According to Mr. Derek Langgons the training was aimed at working out a number of tools anticipating problems that might occur in future and to look into how lessons learnt by cities in other countries could be applied in Bhutan. "It will also encourage the government and stakeholders to make better decisions on matters related to air pollution," he added.

Thirty participants from private and government owned industries and government representatives attending the training were taught on general air quality management, monitoring of air pollutants, emissions inventory, dispersion modelling and source apportionment.

Training participants agreed that there was a need for building capacity to increase efficiency of the implementers in monitoring and assessing pollutants emitted.

Deficiency of technology and equipment were also pointed out as other drawbacks in air quality management.

The National environment commission has one mobile unit and a trans-boundary unit at Bhur in Gelephu to measure air pollution. The Penden Cement Authority Limited in Gomtu has two air quality monitoring equipment and the Bhutan Ferroy Alloys Limited one.

The Road Safety Transport Authority has eight petrol and 10 diesel vehicle emission testing machines which break down quite frequently. Emission testing was made mandatory from last year. According to the National Environment Commission there were about 25,000 vehicles in Bhutan as of December 2003.

According to National Environment Commission (NEC), in urban areas like Thimphu major pollutants were emitted by debris burning, use of firewood in winter and vehicle emissions.

Most industries in the country also met emission standards according to National Environment Commission. "The data collected by the respirable dust sampler for ambient air sampling, at the factory is cross checked with the data collected by NEC and MTI during their visits," said Tashi Wangdi of the Bhutan Ferro Alloys Limited in Pasakha. "The emission level is much below the standards required in Bhutan."

According to Nedup Tshering of the National Environment Commission dispersion, accumulative and composition of air pollution are taken into account while fixing air quality standards.

The training was funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as a technical assistance to the South Asian Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) countries for regional air quality management.

Kinley Wangmo
[email protected]

Copyright 2004 - Kuensel

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