State Environment Secretary Valsa Nair Singh told Hindustan Times that the state is considering measures, such as dust dispersants at construction sites, to reduce air pollution.
The Environment Status Report says the levels of cancer-causing air pollutants have increased substantially from last year.
We are concerned about this. That’s one of the reasons for us being so particular about monitoring air quality through our network of ambient air quality stations. We are exploring various initiatives to tackle air pollution by establishing linkages with health repercussions. But, one of the reasons that the particulate matter in the city is exceeding permissible limits is the Central Pollution Control Board’s decision to introduce 12 stringent norms in calculating levels of finer particulate matter. It has tightened air quality monitoring; it’s much more stringent than it used to be.
The civic body attributes the rise in air pollutants to increased construction activity. What is the state doing about it?
Building sites as well as road quality do lead to air pollution, though it is difficult to pin increases in cancer-causing particulate matter on construction activity. However, we are looking at anti-pollution devices, construction dust control measures such as dust dispersants and water spraying. In the case of vehicular emissions, we have been successful partially by converting to cleaner fuels. The results are not visible because of the constant rise in vehicle numbers. But, we haven’t deteriorated either.
What is the department’s priority in terms of tackling air pollution?
We want to increase general awareness about air pollution. For this, we are putting up boards at vantage points displaying air quality in the area with standardised remarks such as ‘good’, ‘average’ and ‘bad’ so that the layman can understand the air standard. Increase in awareness will help us push through policy initiatives to combat air pollution. The other priority in the near future is to ensure that we celebrate Diwali without harming the environment and air quality.