Increasing vehicles, construction activity and encroachments leading to traffic jams are worsening the air quality of Lucknow.
The Central Pollution Control Board’s report on the air quality index of various cities across India highlights that conditions in Lucknow not only turned bad during 2015-16, but also went beyond the ‘safe limits’.
The average air quality index (AQI) was in the ‘very poor’ (301-400) category between November and February 2015. A look at the AQI for individual dates highlighted that the readings also touched the ‘severe’ (more than 400) category on some winter dates. The readings were quite close to that of Delhi.
As per the interpretation of health impact of the various readings described in the report, the AQI in ‘very poor’ range may cause ‘respiratory illness to the people on prolonged exposure. The effect may be more pronounced in people with lung and heart diseases.’
For the ‘severe’ category, the air quality may have ‘respiratory effects even on healthy people and serious health impacts on people with lung/heart diseases. The health impacts may be experienced even during light physical activity,’ says the report.
Agreeing to the high pollution levels in Lucknow as monitored by the three units at Talkatora, Lalbagh and Aliganj, the officials of CPCB said they had also written to the district magistrate in the past regarding the factors that cause pollution in Lucknow and that these could be checked to bring down pollution.
They, however, said winter months were critical due to wind velocity and climatic conditions and thus the pollution levels were on the higher side during the season.
“Burning of wood and dry leaves etc during winter months adds to increase in particulate matter (PM) and sulphur oxide levels. Also since the air is stable in winters, pollution gets trapped in the inversion layers and leads to high PM10 levels,” said Venkatesh Dutta, assistant professor, environment sciences at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University.
However, he said that old vehicles that continued to be on the roads unchecked, added to the pollution in Lucknow. “Unlike Delhi, there isn’t any check on old vehicles that add to pollution,” he added.
Another environment expert, VK Joshi said, “The overall pollution levels are high in Lucknow and these are manmade. The ever- increasing vehicles, encroachments that lead to traffic jams and massive construction activity across the state are some of the prime causes of rising pollution levels in Lucknow.”