June 24, 2021 8:35:42 am
Data on air quality reported from six industrial cities in Punjab suggests that the particulate matter (PM10) concentrations in all six cities were greater than the permissible limit on more than 50 per cent of days in the first half of 2021 and that even during Covid lockdown the air quality in Punjab ranged from poor to very poor.
Experts taking part in a virtual discussion on ‘Air Quality Management in Punjab’ revealed that real time monitoring data from Mandi Gobindgarh, Patiala, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Khanna has revealed the startling statistics.
Tanushree Ganguly, Programme Lead, Risks & Adaptation-Air Quality, Council on Energy Environment & Water (CEEW), said that PM10 — the coarser fraction of particulate matter — comes from sources like road dust, dust from construction sites, landfills, windblown dust, etc. She explained that, interestingly, existing source apportionment studies for cities in Punjab point to a significant contribution from sources outside city limits.
“Therefore, to address pollution in the state, it would be imperative to ramp up air quality monitoring and generate more evidence on local and regional sources of pollution impacting the state,” Ganguly informed.
Dr Prabhjyot Kaur Sidhu, Principal Scientist and Head, Department of climate change and Agricultural Meteorology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, stated that Punjab with nearly 83 per cent area under crops is predominantly a green state.
“Despite this fact, the AQI of Punjab in May 2021, ranged from 68-220, which indicates that the air quality ranged in the ‘Poor’ to ‘Very Poor’ category. This continued even during the lockdown period despite reduced vehicular and industrial pollution, which highlights that we need to explore the possible reasons for the poor AQI in Punjab,” she said.
Experts emphasised that it was becoming a norm for neighbouring states to simply blame Punjab during the stubble burning season, and the fact that people from Punjab are themselves a victim of air pollution is lost in the stubble burning discussion.
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