The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Gwalior as the second most polluted city in the world, but the officials at the helm of pollution affairs in Madhya Pradesh dismiss the study as non-representative.
The World Health Organization had released the report recently, which showed Gwalior had a particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration of 176 micro gram per cubic metre of air. The report is based on the annual average concentration of PM 2.5 for the 2012. Even last year, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had put Gwalior on top of the list of polluted cities in the country in terms of particulate matter. The CPCB data showed that against the permissible limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, particulate matter (pm) in Gwalior was 329 micrograms per cubic metre, which is over five times the permissible limit.
According to the national ambient air quality standards, the 24-hour average of P2.5 should not be beyond 60 micrograms per cubic metre and its annual average should be less than 40 micrograms per cubic metre.
In case of particulate matter between 2.5 to 10 microns (also called P10), the 24-hour average of P10 should not be beyond 100 micrograms and its annual average should be less than 60 micrograms per cubic metre.
The data of last one year show that particulate matter in Gwalior is still above the permissible limits. The annual average of fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (P2.5) between May 2015 to April 2016 in Gwalior is 72.2 micrograms per cubic metre according to officials, which is higher than the permissible limits. Against the permissible limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, P10 particulate matter in Gwalior according to official data was 283.53 micrograms per cubic metre in 2011-2012, 309.57 in 2012-13, 205.26 in 2013-14, 140.6 in 2014-15 and 115 in 2015-16.
For the second consecutive year, Gwalior has been in news for very high pollution.
WHO report based on 2012 readings, doesn’t represent present situation: SPCB
However, Gwalior regional officer of state pollution control board Alok Kumar Jain told HT on phone that the WHO report was based on 2012 readings and didn’t represent the present situation. He said, “The spike in pollution levels picked up by the CPCB in 2012, and now by WHO, is not representative of whole of Gwalior. It is because there was heavy construction work going on here in 2012. That year 68 km long sewerage network was being laid here due to which large stretches of roads were dug and that kicked off lot of particulate matter in the air.”
Jain said they were taking measurements of pollution from two places in Gwalior- DD Nagar and Maharaja Bada. “At Maharaja Bada very high number of vehicles pass and a lot of dust is kicked off from the road. But it doesn’t happen elsewhere in Gwalior,” he said.
Environmental experts said a multitude of factors contribute to pollution, which needed to be studied thoroughly in the context of Gwalior. “Even as the state government and many people here find it hard to believe that Gwalior is world’s second highest polluted city, what is required is an in-depth study of pollution levels in Bhopal by experts using high tech equipment. That will set the record straight about what is actually happening in Gwalior”, said Rekha Bhardwaj, former head of environmental sciences department at Jiwaji University, Gwalior.