Kolkata’s air pollution hit the ‘severe’ mark soon after midnight, primarily due to fireworks set off to welcome the new year, the West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) said Tuesday.
When celebrations began at midnight, the Air Quality Index (AQI) read 374 PM 2.5 at the air monitoring station of WBPCB at Rabindra Bharati University, one of two automated air monitoring stations in the city. AQI at Rabindra Bharati University read 400 PM 2.5 at 10 am on Tuesday and remained the same at 11 am. AQI between 301-399 is categorised as “very poor’ while readings above 400 are marked “severe”.
Meanwhile, the WBPCB’s second station at Victoria Memorial clocked AQI at 365 PM 2.5 (very poor) at 10 pm on Monday. The reading came down to 333 PM 2.5 at 11 am.
Parameters used by AQI to indicate pollution
Air quality Index (AQI)is an indicator of air pollution caused by three pollutants — Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), PM 10 and PM 2.5. The index indicates air quality as ‘good’ for values of 0-100, ‘moderate’ for 101-200 and ‘poor’ for 201-300. Particles less than 2.5 PM (micrometres) are called PM 2.5. They are approximately one-thirtieth of the average width of human hair and are generally described as fine particles. PM 10, on the other hand, refers to particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diameter.
A WBPCB official said air quality turned poor due to the bursting of firecrackers at midnight. “It was mainly due to the fact that firecrackers were being burst after midnight. However, it does not project the entire situation in the state. In districts, the air quality remained good. Air quality did not improve in the morning because… in winter, particles remain in the air because of the fog-like situation,” said the official.
Environmentalists called for tree plantation drives to be initiated in and around Kolkata. “The increasing air pollution will deal a major blow to health of citizens and cause severe respiratory problems. To improve air quality, there must be a tree plantation drive in and around the city,” said an environmentalist.
After taking over as Kolkata Mayor, Firhad Hakim had announced tax rebates for citizens of Kolkata if they plant trees on their properties. He had also vowed to make the city “pollution-free”.