Kathmandu’s wires are a sore sight for many – for a city grappling with almost all forms of pollution, visual pollution probably is one of our least worry.  The last time the issue was addressed was in February, 2019 – when Nepal Electricity Authority said the wires will go underground. When making the announcement, they also said they will be using Directional Boring – a horizontal directional drilling method, which unlike Melamchi pipe installation, will not leave trenches along our roads.

Any visible work on it is yet to be seen, however government earlier this month assured that the planning process is ongoing, and that Nepal Telecom is onboard as well.

Like several other problems, including the lack of parking spaces, poor air quality, and dirty rivers in Kathmandu, the problem of visual pollution could be attributed towards lack of foresight. It was only after the problem became apparent, did the authorities concerned start seeking solutions.

However, the tangled mess, in a few areas of the valley are beyond visual pollution – they are a hazard. For example in Kamaladi, just opposite Rising Mall, wires are seen hanging precariously low – pedestrians and motorists have to dodge the wires to make their way. At certain places, loose wires are seen tied to the railings along the sidewalk.

Although none of the wires are open, they still pose a significant risk. “A motorcyclist, especially at night, could get caught up in the entangled mess, and worse, fall off their bike. Are we waiting for an accident to happen before any concrete action is taken?” a concerned local wondered.

When probed further, he said the response from authorities concerned is not adequate. “After numerous complaints, someone will come and clip off the hanging wires, however after a few days, more wires are seen hanging. The problem should be eliminated, not just taken care of for a day or two,” he added.

Another local said that the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and Nepal Telecom (NT) are unsure of their responsibilities towards taking care of the mess. “When we air our queries to NEA, officials there tell us that the issue falls under NT’s jurisdiction. We reach out to NT, but they say they don’t have the equipment to clip the wires, and that NEA has the necessary equipment.”

Meanwhile in Anamnagar, wires hang dangerously low – almost dragged by their own weight. Hundreds of pedestrians/vehicles ply the adjoining street. If some sort of accident were to occur due to the messy wires, the consequences could be dire. Similarly, in Thapathali, monkeys can be spotted walking/dangling on the wires, should one of the wires break by accident, it could seriously injure the public.

While it could be some time before all wires go underground and Kathmandu becomes Nepal’s first open-wire-free city, NEA and NT need to address the associated hazards immediately.