Five instruments set up by the CPCB in different parts of Allahabad have been sending out alarming statistics about the quality of air in the city. But the authorities don’t think there is a problem yet. “The air quality is not as bad as in other cities,” said Sanjiv Pradhan, Environment Engineer of Allahabad Municipal Corporation.
Reasons for pollution:
Diesel city: As many as 7,000 new vehicles get registered every month. Experts say the worst offenders are the three-wheelers, which function as the main mode of transport in the city. All of them run on diesel. There are only 125 buses run by the municipal corporation. Allahabad remains the only big city in Uttar Pradesh without a CNG filling station. “The pipeline to supply gas to the city is being laid. Earlier, we had planned to start it from January, 2016, but it has been extended by two months,” said Regional Transport Officer Bhim Sen Singh, adding that five two-wheelers are registered for one four-wheeler. Besides the vehicles in the city, officials say that vehicles headed to Varanasi get off NH-2 and take a detour through the city to avoid paying toll tax at one plaza.
Construction dust: There are no measures to cordon off construction sites and the dust particles hang in the air long after the roads are dug up. This is a major contributor to PM10, which enters the respiratory system and causes breathing troubles. With little green cover in the commercial areas of the city, dust is a major cause of pollution.
“Neither the sideways nor the dividers have any grass or plants. Look at any road and there is dust,” said SB Franklin, the Regional Officer of the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board in Allahabad.
Way forward: On excessive use of diesel, Anil Kumar Singh, Additional Regional Transport Officer of Allahabad, says, “If we get CNG lines in the city, we will be able to switch all those vehicles to CNG in three months.”
Outside Singh’s office is a long list of shops that issue environment fitness certificates to vehicles, cars and two-wheelers. Though every vehicle is meant to be inspected before the fitness certificates are issued, the certificates are usually handed out without any inspection. “We are now making it mandatory for them to take a photograph of the vehicle before issuing the fitness certificate,” said Singh.