Buddha’s Birthplace Faces Serious Air Pollution Threat

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Kathmandu: Gautama Buddha’s birth place Lumbini Garden, revered worldwide faces serious threat from air pollution, reported BBC.  Recent data collected from air quality monitoring stations in five places across the country show Lumbini is highly polluted.

The warnings have come amid expanding industrialisation near the sacred site. It is already located in a pollution hotspot on the Gangetic plains. For the month of January, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in Lumbini, in southwest Nepal, was measured at 173.035 micrograms per cubic metre. The reading for the neighbouring town of Chitwan was 113.32 and the capital, Kathmandu, which is known for its high pollution levels, was at 109.82.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), for human beings, the same limit for pollutant is 25 micrograms per cubic metre and the Nepal government has set the national standard at 40 in respect to international standards. Scientific studies have also highlighted the increasing levels of pollution in and around the historic site.

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UNESCO is worried about Lumbini as the place of Buddha’s birth, a pillar to mark his birth place is under threat from air pollution. In the year 294 BC under the guidance of king Ashok the pillar was constructed. Researchers and environmentalists are desperate to preserve the ancient site.

Gautama Buddha or prince Siddhartha was born to queen Maya and Kind Suddhodana at Lumbini Garden. He spent 29 years of his life in Lumbini.

Tourists and monks visiting the site have told the BBC they felt uneasy while breathing in the air.

“At times I have difficulty in breathing properly and I have to cough,” said monk Vivekananda who runs an international meditation centre in Lumbini. He and a few others were meditating with their face masks on near Mayadevi temple that marks the exact spot where Gautam Buddha was born more than 2,600 years ago.

“We had at our meditation centre, few mediators who have had asthma conditions and during their stay here in Lumbini, it has badly affected them,” he told the BBC.

“In at least three cases, [they] had to cut their retreat short and go back because they could not tolerate the conditions,” said monk Vivekananda.