As work goes on round-the-clock on beautification of the Samta Mulak crossing in Gomti Nagar,where thousands of vehicles pass every day,the area remains enveloped in clouds of dust due to the constant cutting and grinding of stones,with no pollution control measures in place.
Workers dont have masks,protective glasses,or gloves. Those in four-wheelers roll up the glasses as they approach the crossing. Coughing and sneezing,those on two wheelers speed up,bent on getting away as fast as possible.
It is not just the crossing which is enveloped in dust. The air on Gomti barrage,the new bridge,the approach road from Gomti Nagar,and the road leading to the Taj Hotel is heavily laden with dust. In fact,these are spots where the conditions are the worst.
Since December,cutting and grinding stones has been going on not just on the crossing,but also on the stretch leading to the Ambedkar memorial.
I try to rush past as fast as I can. I suffer from asthma and the dust aggravates it. I have to use this route every day, said Sanjeev Verma,a resident of Gokhle Marg.
Anil Singh,a resident of Indira Nagar,said,Why are the authorities not doing anything about it? It is impossible to avoid this route,so we suffer every day.
The secretariat,the office of the Pollution Control Board and the residence of the Chief Minister all are within a stones throw of the locality,still no one seems bothered about this health hazard.
Principal Secretary (Environment) Alok Ranjan said the Pollution Control Board had been instructed on the issue. I have heard about the dust problem and had a discussion with the UPPCB. I have asked them to take relevant action.
But the board is clearly at a loss. Its Chief Environmental Engineer Swami Nath Ram said: The high pollution in the area can also be due to vehicular emissions and other construction activity. So,there is no way of saying what the prime source of pollution is,so we can initiate action.
The fact is that no one wants to bell the cat the beautification of the crossing is a project close to the heart of the Chief Minister.
In November,the Indian Toxicology Research Center had released an Assessment of Environmental Status of Lucknow City: Post-Monsoon Survey Report.
It said suspended particulate matter and respiratory suspended particulate matter in Gomti Nagar was 356.3 and 151.3 micrograms per cubic metres respectively against the permissible limits of 200 micrograms and 100 micrograms.
No study has been done about the Samata Mulak crossing and the area around it,but conditions here look much worse.