The Environment Directorate launched a campaign in Kabul against the use of coal, in order to protect the environment during the coming winter.
In this one-week campaign, the activists will collect over 124,000 signatures from Kabul residents pledging to avoid using coal for heating during winter and to restrain from using old cars in order to prevent air pollution in the city.
The campaigners are also distributing awareness brochures asking residents to avoid using damaged engines which produce a big amount of smoke.
The activists, who wore white outfits and carried banners with slogans saying “fighting air pollution,” called on citizens to take an active role in this campaign.
“One of the important parts of this campaign is recognizing vehicles that produce more smoke. We label them so that the traffic police will fine them if they do not fix their cars,” said Mohammad Afzal, an activist.
Kabul residents who participated in the campaign said there is a need for serious attention to the issue of air pollution in the city.
“If we do not use coal it will help in keeping the air clean,” a Kabul resident Amir Mohammad said.
“I did not commit to avoid using coal during winter because my economy is weak and I cannot afford to buy other things rather than coal,” said Sher Husain, a Kabul resident.
But many Kabul residents interviewed by TOLOnews said there is a need for more electricity in order to avoid using coal, which they can buy much cheaper than wood and gas.
“I just bought the needed coal and wood for the winter. I usually use it in winter,” said Fawad, a Kabul resident.
“We should establish new economic policies. For instance, we should increase the coal prices while reducing fuel prices so that vulnerable people are encouraged to use fuel for warming their houses,” said Kazim Humayun, head of the Environment Directorate of Kabul.
According to an AP report, there are no official statistics on how many Afghans die of pollution-related illnesses, but the research group State of Global Air said more than 26,000 deaths could be attributed to it in 2017. In contrast, 3,483 civilians were killed that year in the Afghan war, according to the United Nations.
Kabul, a city of some 6 million, has become one of the most polluted cities in the world — ranking at the top of the list among other polluted capitals such as India’s New Delhi or China’s Beijing. Decades of war have wrecked the city’s infrastructure and caused waves of displaced people.