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Thursday, 8 June, 2000, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Nepal lifts rickshaw ban
Kathmandu
The government wants to reduce congestion in Kathmandu
By Sushil Sharma in Kathmandu

The authorities in Nepal have lifted a controversial ban slapped on new pollution-free auto-rickshaws following criticism from leading environmentalists.

The lifting of the ban is the second major victory for Nepalese environmentalists in less than a year.

Last year, they successfully campaigned against diesel-run auto-rickshaws, which were a major cause of Kathmandu's pollution and a public health hazard.

A popular mode of public transport, the diesel-run auto-rickshaws were replaced by battery-operated three-wheelers, called "safa tempo" (clean tempo).

"Safa tempos" do not emit smoke or the loud noises associated with diesel auto-rickshaws.

Pollution reduced

The new vehicles, which were already in use, are believed to have considerably reduced pollution in Kathmandu, which was considered one of Asia's most polluted cities.

Rickshaws in Delhi
Rickshaws are a popular mode of transport in the sub-continent
Vehicular emissions account for a large part of the overall pollution problem in Kathmandu.

But environmentalists were shocked by a government decision last week to ban the registration of new battery operated auto-rickshaws.

This was in line with a policy of preventing new vehicles taking to the road to ease traffic congestion.

The government enforced the ban in the Kathmandu valley last week, citing the problem of overcrowding.

The authorities said the ban was temporary and that it might be lifted within three months after a study had been carried out on the capacity of Kathmandu's roads.

But there was widespread criticism from leading environmental groups, who said that the ban could not be justified under any pretext.

They said the vehicles were a cheap, efficient and environmentally-friendly mode of transport, and they called on the government to overturn the decision immediately.

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28 Jul 99 | South Asia
Nepal bans diesel rickshaws
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