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Wednesday, July 28, 1999 Published at 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK

World: South Asia

Nepal bans diesel rickshaws

The move is part of a drive to clean up Kathmandu

By Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu

The government of Nepal has decided to ban diesel-operated auto-rickshaw vehicles in the capital, Kathmandu.

The three-wheeler auto-rickshaws are one of the main modes of public transport. But they are identified as a major pollutant and a public health hazard.

[ image: A common sight on Kathmandu roads]
A common sight on Kathmandu roads
The government says the ban on auto-rickshaws is due to take effect in mid-September.

The move is expected to force more than 600 such auto-rickshaws to go off the streets in Kathmandu.

The authorities said that import of non-polluting public buses will be encouraged to replace the diesel-operated three-wheelers.

It said that the decision to ban these vehicles is part of the government's plan to clean up the city by forcing all polluting vehicles from the capital.

Threat to tourism

The Director General of the Transport Management Department, Vaidya Nath Mallik, said the government plans to clear Kathmandu of all polluting vehicles by next year.

He said the ban will be implemented in phases.

Kathmandu is one of the most polluted cities in Asia, vehicular emissions accounting for a big share.

Besides posing a health hazard to the public, the growing pollution is also seen as a threat to the tourism industry.

Tourism is one of Nepal's major sources of foreign exchange and Kathmandu is Nepal's main tourist centre.

The tourism industry and voluntary organisations have welcomed the ban.

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