Peshawar    -   Almost extinct in other parts of the country, the decades old two-stroke rickshaws were largely contributing to environmental polluting in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa metropolis, Peshawar, sadly without any check.

These two-stroke noise creating rickshaws release much hazardous smoke which besides polluting the environment shed a very bad impact on human health. Approximately there are over 70000 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 more serious as poor air quality increases respiratory ailments like asthma and bronchitis that heightens the risk of life-threatening conditions.

Chaos on roads along with emission of hazardous gases by vehicles, especially by rickshaws, was growing and so was the threat to the people’s health. No doubt these rickshaws are major pollution contributors, producing significant amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and other pollution.

According to a recent study conducted in several parts of the city, presence of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in the air was much higher than the international standard set by the World Health Organization.

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 percent patients complained of hearing problems largely due to high noise levels of rickshaws.

Interestingly, when asked by a two-stroke rickshaw driver why he was polluting the air, he harshly 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.

Most of the rickshaws drivers even have no proper legal documents of the vehicle and driving licenses. Moreover almost all two-stroke rickshaws were having no horn, proper headlights, indicators and above all proper brake mechanism which frequently caused major or minor road mishaps on city roads. 

Though many of the rickshaw owners have acquired four stroke rickshaws that were comparatively environment friendly with less noise pollution but still there were scores of smoke emitting two-stroke rickshaws causing air and noise pollution in the city. 

Arshad Ali, a shopkeeper, said though the incumbent KP government had streamlined the affairs of cleanliness on the ground however the air was being badly polluted by the two-stroke rickshaws which needed solid steps to contain. This was a thought provoking situation for the authorities concerned, he added.