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Air pollution level in Chandigarh alarmingly high

Pollution levels during Diwali remain an area of concern in Chandigarh.

Written by Vinod Kumar | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 9, 2015 2:41:41 am
chandigarh, chandigarh diwali, diwali pollution, diwali, chandigarh news Chandigarh can take solace in the fact that the level of pollution has started witnessing a minor dip in the recent years

RESIDENTS OF City Beautiful have a reason to worry as the quality of air in the city has deteriorated, with the quantity of particulate matter being beyond permissible limits. However, they can take solace in the fact that the level of pollution has started witnessing a minor dip in the recent years.

As per the data compiled by the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC), both 24 hourly and annual averages, the level of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) has been recorded above the permissible limits, that is, 60 microgram per cubic metre (mcg/cu m) in the past many years.

Read: Festival of lights — and smoke, fire and noise

However, so far, the level of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide was well within the limits of 40-60 mcg/cu m.
CPCC gathers data from five locations — Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Sector 39; Industrial Area, Phase 1; Kaimbwala; Punjab Engineering College (PEC); and Sector 17 — annually.

In 2014, the highest level of RSPM was recorded in the Industrial Area at 114 mcg/cu m, which was 125 mcg/cu m in 2013 and 102 mcg/cu m in 2012. The level of the component at Kaimbwala was recorded at 91 mcg/cu m in 2014, 101 mcg/cu m in 2013 and 119 mcg/cu m in 2012. The level of RSPM was also on higher side at three other locations — IMTECH, PEC and Sector 17— between 2012 and 2014.

Birendra Choudhary, member secretary of CPCC, termed the ever rising number of vehicular population in the city one of the main contributors to the deteriorating quality of air.

Chandigarh has the highest density of vehicles in India with around 12 lakh registered vehicles. The fleet of vehicles is over two per household in the city.

The other major contributors of air pollution are activities like transport, industries, burning of dry leaves and operation of generator sets in certain areas.
Director (environment) Santosh Kumar said that the administration was putting a lot of efforts, and the level of pollution had come down in the last few years. “We are carrying a sustained campaign and we are hopeful of improving the air quality,” he added.

Diwali not good for environment

To make matters worse, the city’s air quality deteriorates drastically during Diwali every year. The campaigns carried out by schools and various non-government organisations (NGOs) in the past against crackers have failed to deliver desirable results. Every year, the level of RSPM is recorded abnormally high on Diwali.
As per the data collected by CPCC, Sector 22 topped the list with highest RSPM level with 218 mcg/cu m on Diwali day, which was 450 in 2013. RSPM in 2014 was at 260 mcg/cu m in Sector 29, which was at 409 in 2013. Similarly, RSPM level in Sector 17 was recorded at 185 mcg/cu m, which was 165 in 2013. Expressing helplessness, Choudhary said the committee could not do much beyond spreading awareness. “We cannot force people not to buy crackers. Keeping in view religious sentiments, we can create awareness,” he added.

Orders violated

With an aim to minimise the ill effects of pollution caused by bursting crackers during Diwali, the Chandigarh Administration every year issues orders putting restrictions on use of fire crackers in the city. However, with no proper enforcement, the restrictions are not complied with. Every year, the deputy commissioner issues orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting the use of fire crackers between 10 pm and 6 am and in the silence zone which comprises an area of 100 metres around hospitals, educational institutions, courts and religious places.

Ajit Balaji Joshi, who recently took over as UT DC, vowed to enforce the restrictions this time. “We are preparing a plan with Chandigarh Police to ensure enforcement of the restrictions,” he said.

Steps taken to curb air pollution

*Burning of leaves has been banned
*Plantations have been carried out and the total green cover of the city has increased over the years
*CPCC regularly monitors level of pollution in Chandigarh at five locations
*Promoting alternative fuel like LPG for vehicles
*Subsidy on battery-operated vehicles
*Strict control over industrial pollution is exercised
*Cycle tracks have been developed

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