Environmental officials of the Government of Nepal have said that there is no possibility of immediate removal of air pollution and dust that has spread in many parts of the country including Kathmandu Valley.
As there is no immediate improvement in the situation, it has been decided to close all schools across the country for four days, said Education Secretary Ram Thapaliya.
“All schools will be closed until Friday due to pollution,” he said.
Shankar Prasad Poudel, head of the Pollution Regulation and Control Branch of the Environment Department, told the BBC that there had been no rain or wind speed for at least a few days.
“There is no immediate rain and even the wind speed does not seem to remove the pollution,” he said.
“This is due to the fact that there are fires all over the country from east to west. Even though such pollution has been seen for a day or two in the past, it is at least a decade since air quality deteriorated for such a long time.”
Government officials quoted fire experts as saying that this was the first time since 2009 that so many fires had broken out.
Officials say the situation is “serious” in most places where pollution centers are located.
According to the data provided by the center, the air condition in the Kathmandu Valley was found to be “dangerous” or “very unhealthy” at noon on Monday.
The weather is also ‘unhealthy’ in other parts of the country like Pokhara, Jumla and Dhankuta.
On Monday afternoon, Prime Minister KP Oli acknowledged that “nationwide fire control is not possible” and said it would take “a few days” for pollution to be brought under control.
Speaking at an event in Baluwatar, he said, “We are thinking of closing the school for a few days. We will decide on that soon.”
After that, the Ministry of Education has made a formal decision.
According to fire experts, the trend of fire reaching its peak in the second week of April has been seen in Nepal in the last few years.
Sundar Prasad Sharma, a fire expert with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, told the BBC: “The current incidence of fires is very low. It could escalate further.”
On Monday morning, fires were seen in 115 places in 34 districts of Nepal for the past 24 hours.
Although such direct data collected from the satellite does not show the area covered by the fire, officials say that only a locally obtained source can give a clear indication of its role in the pollution.
Fire expert Sharma added, “I have never seen such a fire in almost two and a half decades of working in this field. This is a disaster of emergency level.”
According to officials, even in the past, the effects of the burning of grain husks in Delhi-Haryana and surrounding areas of India during the winter were seen as far as Nepal, but in the past it was only seen for a day or two.
According to the Department of Water and Meteorology, the next three days will see “partial to moderate cloud cover” in the country’s hilly terrain until Wednesday.
Pratibha Manandhar, the senior meteorologist of the department, said, “Even if it rains, it is not likely to rain much. It seems that it will rain only sporadically. Pollution will be reduced only if the wind blows it away.
According to him, the situation may improve on Tuesday.
According to meteorologists, heavy rains are unlikely during the pre-monsoon season.
“There is no sign of significant rainfall this pre-monsoon. If the winds had a strong westerly wind in normal pre-monsoon times, the chances of this pollution going away would be high,” Manandhar added.
“So the chances of an immediate problem being reduced are very low.”