Milan Rai is a visual artist who is also referred to as the ‘Butterfly Man’ for his internationally popular ‘White Butterflies’ project. His handmade butterfly shaped cutouts — that symbolize peace and harmony– have traveled to all the corners of the globe.
Rai can be spotted sporting a completely new avatar these days. With a gas mask on, holding a broom stick; he can be seen in different places in Kathmandu. It’s his new movement — a symbolic protest against air pollution — as it’s becoming harder to even breathe in the capital.
“It’s hard to breathe in Kathmandu due to extreme levels of pollution caused by the unmanaged road expansions and laying of pipelines for the Melamchi Water Project”, he took to his Facebook handle to express his concern. “Cloth masks commonly used by the general public are useless against air pollution. Therefore I am wearing a gas mask which is used to protect oneself from poisonous elements.”
“We all know that we are breathing in harmful carbon monoxide emitted by old vehicles. The thick dust makes it difficult to navigate the city. Besides the visible pollution, there are other levels of political pollution. Hence I am using a gas mask to filter invisible political pollution that is seriously affecting the health and wellness of the citizens”, he took a jibe at the incompetent leaders as well.
On Wednesday, he met DIG Mingmar Lama at the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division to raise his concern over how the traffic cops are the ones who are most vulnerable to the potential health impacts of the air pollution.
Rai now intends to meet Gagan Thapa, the Minister of Health and Population to talk about the issue.