Close on the heels of the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC’s) environment status report (ESR) that showed the city had only 100 days of ‘good’ air quality, a new report by Urban Emissions, an air pollution research organisation, has revealed that PM2.5 levels in the city were about five times more than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) guidelines.
The report, a part of their assessment of air pollution in various cities, shows that the PM2.5 levels in Pune varied between 43.4 and 69.2 micrograms per cubic metre, with an overall average of 56.3 micrograms per cubic metre. The WHO standard for PM2.5 is 10 micro-gm/cubic metre, while the national standard is 40 micro-gm/cubic metre.
The report says that an estimated 25 per cent of the annual PM 2.5 particles found in Pune actually originated outside the city, from nearby coal-fired power plants, large industries, rock quarries and brick kilns. The findings are part of the Air Pollution knowledge Assessments (APnA) city programme in which Urban Emissions has done an air pollution profile of 50 cities. It includes a database of emissions and source contribution assessments by sector in every city.
For Pune, transport, industry and dust happen to be the main contributors of air pollutants. Transport sector accounts for more than one third of PM2.5 particles, and one-sixth of PM10 particles. Dust contributes almost 60 per cent of PM10 particles. The report says that the city needed to aggressively promote public and non-motorised transport as part of its development plan, along with an improvement of road infrastructure to reduce on-road dust suspension. The report also emphasises on the need for more pollution monitoring infrastructure in the city to better understand the problem and identify solutions. “The city requires at least 30 continuous air monitoring stations to statistically, and temporally, represent the mix of sources and range of pollution in the city,” it says. Currently, the city has only one continuous air monitoring station, reporting data for all pollutants, and four manual stations for tracking PM10, SO2 and NO2.
Sarath Guttikunda, founder director of Urban Emissions, told The Indian Express that in Pune, key sectors were transport, waste, industries, and dust. “While waste management has picked up pace in the recently years, the others are lagging behind. We need an aggressive push for public transport and incentives to use it, more walking and cycling infrastructure, and stricter enforcement of emission regulations for all industries, along with promotion of cleaner fuels,” Guttikunda said.
“This (information in the report) has been the culmination of long years of number crunching. There is much more to be done and in Pune we are following some discussions with PMC. The city is on the priority list for further detailed assessment,” he said.
“By 2030, the share of emissions from residential cooking and lighting is expected to decrease with a greater share of LPG, residential electrification and increasing urbanisation. However, since the availability of biomass and coal in the region is high, a fair share of its use is expected to continue unless an aggressive programme is in place to shift to cleaner options,” said Guttikunda.
Earlier this week, Pune’s ESR report had showed that the air quality index for PM 2.5 was satisfactory for 168 days, good for 100 days and moderate for 92 days.
“While the situation is not alarming, we still have to prepare for alternatives like promoting public transport and use of bicycles,” said Mangesh Dighe, environment officer with PMC.
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