Two-stroke rickshaw: chief pollution contributor in Peshawar
PESHAWAR: Almost extinct in other parts of the country, the decades old two-stroke rickshaws are largely contributing to environmental degradation and polluting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s metropolis, Peshawar, without any check. These two-stroke noise creating rickshaws burn engine oil with fuel to ply roads and release much hazardous smokes which besides polluting the environment, shed a very bad impact on human health. It’s a routine view on Peshawar roads that a single two-stroke rickshaw covers the entire scene behind with thick smoke for the commuters following the three-wheeler. Approximately there were over 70,000 rickshaws in Peshawar with more than half having no registration. Among these rickshaws over 8000 are two-stroke. The excessive numbers of rickshaws are not only a major reason for traffic mess in Peshawar but above all a big challenge to environment protection and safety to human health. The health risks of air pollution created by these rickshaws are much serious as poor air quality increases respiratory ailments like asthma and bronchitis that heightens the risk of life-threatening conditions. Chaos on the roads along with emission of hazardous gases by vehicles, especially by rickshaws, was growing and so was their threat to the people's health. No doubt, rickshaws are a major pollution contributor, producing significant amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and other pollution. According to a recent study done in several parts of the city, presence of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in the air is much higher than the international standard set by the World Health Organization. The air is heavily polluted by smoke and noise. The noise level in the city ranges from 90 to 100 decibels though its limit set by WHO is 85 decibels. Doctors blame rickshaws for noise pollution which, according to them, was the major cause of high incidence of hearing impairment, hypertension and heart problems among locals. Dr Hamza Khan of Khyber Teaching Hospital said the noise generated by three-wheelers had a negative bearing on human hearing and caused blood pressure, hypertension, palpitation, breathing difficulty, stomach problems, stress and sleep disorders. He said his 30 per cent of patients complained of hearing problems largely due to high noise levels of rickshaws. Interestingly, when asked from a two-stroke rickshaw driver why he was polluting the air, he answered that he was not robbing the people but just earning livelihood for his children. However when calmed, he said in fact this rickshaw could not be run without mixing engine oil in its fuel and it has to burn the lubricants and release smoke. Besides playing havoc with people's health, these three wheelers have also turned out to be big violators of traffic laws. These drivers jump traffic lights maneuvering their vehicles and risking the life of other road users. - APP e