The furore over high levels of pollution has been largely restricted to Delhi. However, the Central Pollution Control Board’s list of critically polluted cities includes Varanasi and Kanpur while Lucknow shows highly polluted air quality. according to National Air Quality Index (NAQI).
According to a study of 17 cities covered by the National Air Quality Index (NAQI) and released by Greenpeace India on Tuesday, Varanasi and Kanpur, and Lucknow among the six most highly polluted cities.
CPCB officials said a high level of Particular Matter (PM2.5) in the air is of concern for people. According to National Ambient Air Quality Standards, PM2.5 level in the air in the industrial and residential areas should be 60 micrograms per cubic metres for the 24 hour standard.
However, according to continuous air quality monitoring station installed in Ardali Bazar of Varanasi, the average PM2.5 level in the air there was 370 micrograms per cubic metre on Wednesday. Its level was recorded at a maximum of 500 while minimum was at 217.
In Kanpur, the average PM2.5 level recorded was 345 micrograms per cubic metre with a maximum 464 and minimum 193 micrograms per cubic metre today.
In Lucknow, continuous monitoring stations are installed at three places. The average PM2.5 level recorded was 411 micrograms per cubic metre in the Central School area, 358 in the Talkatora Industrial Area and 331 in the Lalbagh area.
According to CPCB officials, the major causes of a rise in air pollution in these cities are vehicular emission, congested roads leading to traffic jams, use of diesel power generators in markets, the burning of waste in the open as well as dust particles from the poor quality roads and construction sites.
CPCB’s North Zone Office in-charge in Lucknow, PK Mishra told The Indian Express that vehicular exhaust, excess use of diesel power generators and the emission of fossil fueled industries were major factors of air pollution in Varanasi and Kanpur. Mishra said that burning of solid waste including plastics, thermocol, tyres were also adding to the air pollution.
Kanpur is the industrial hub of UP with a large number of tanneries along with textile factories. Kanpur and Varanasi are both sprawling cities with major industrial units away from residential areas but vehicular emission on congested roads of busy markets inside the city and dust generated because of digging of roads for sewage and drainage related works in these areas are leading to pollution. Traffic police at crossings and even the public walk around wearing masks.
UP Chief Secretary Alok Ranjan has recently issued directives to the officials of Housing, Transport, Home, Urban Development, divisional commissioner and district magistrates and Senior Superintendent of Police to form joint teams of transport, police and environment departments officials in every district to run a rigorous campaign against the motor vehicles plying on roads without obtaining a pollution control certificate one year after their registration. The directive also banned the entry of diesel fueled motor vehicles in those districts where CNG fueled public transport vehicles run as per EPCA directives. Municipal corporations have been directed to stop the practice of burning the dry leaves collected in waste.
CMCB has identified six critically polluted cities including Kanpur, Varanasi, Agra, Sonbhadra, Ghaziabad and Noida. Mishra said that these cities are critically polluted because of pollution in air, water, soil and noise pollution too. Air pollution is high in Sonbhadra because of the operation of mining and stone cutting machines.