Senate summoned the head of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) Sunday about lingering concerns over air pollution in the capital, which is causing respiratory problems and, in some cases, death.
Senators criticised NEPA and said that if pollution across the country is not reduced, Afghanistan will confront a man-made disaster. Senators believe most of the steps taken by NEPA are symbolic and relentlessly grilled the NEPA chief, Mustafa Zahir.
“Mr. Zahir, as you see, people with different illnesses go to hospitals as a result of air pollution, and you see that many people are hospitalized. What programmes have you planned to reduce pollution?” said senator Bashar Samim.
“In most of the provinces, people are not even familiar with the name of the National Environmental Protection Agency. This shows that your activities for reducing pollution are trivial. You should plan large-scale programmes in this regard,” said senator Mawlawi Ghulam Muhiuddin Munsef.
Mustafa Zahir, grandson of Afghanistan's late King Zahir Shah, was clearly incensed at the grilling and referred to his background in his defending remarks.
“Dear senators, you know that I am grandson of the person who founded the parliament [in Afghanistan]. I am a prince, not a bum -- history has proved this matter. My activities have mostly been practical, not just theoretical. I have myself planted 4,000 saplings,” said Mustafa Zahir.
Reacting to Zahir’s remarks, Senate Chairman Fazl Hadi Muslimyar said: “Well, Mister Prince, it is correct that you are the grandson of the Father of the Nation. We know enough of the history of your grandfather. But we called you here today to learn what, as the head of the National Environmental Protection Agency, your responses are regarding pollution reduction.”
Although the government has frequently talked of serious efforts to reduce air pollution in the capital, experts believe effective programmes for saving Kabul from this lethal threat have not yet materialized.