Ludhiana residents inhaling ‘venom’, activists flay PPCB neglect

  • Sumeer Singh, Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
  • Updated: May 14, 2016 12:49 IST
Chimneys emitting harmful gasses at Focal Point in Ludhiana on Friday. (JS Grewal/HT Photo)

In the absence of any checks by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), the city residents are literally inhaling ‘venom’ everyday. No doubt, Ludhiana has climbed up three notches to be ranked 12th in the world health organisation (WHO) ranking on the most polluted cities in the world. Environmentalists in the city flay improper monitoring of industrial units, including hosiery, steel, tyres, brick kilns and dyeing which emit harmful gases, increased vehicular congestion, burning of paddy/wheat straw and city residents’ increased dependence on air-conditioned homes and increased vehicular congestion for the hazard.

Fuel being the lifeblood for industries and thousands of manufacturing units primarily are dependent upon coal and rice husk burning for boilers installed for melting of raw material in these units, cause maximum air pollution. Vehicular pollution has also contributed hugely to the city’s air pollution levels, said Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha general secretary Arun Mitra.

Balbir Singh Seechewal, renowned environmentalist in Punjab said, “Firstly, the deteriorated air pollution levels of Ludhiana can directly be attributed to apathy of PPCB officials who despite being well aware of the gravity of issue, took a lenient view regarding errant industrial units spewing harmful gasses, thus increasing the respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) content in the air.”

“There is a bigger nexus at play which conveniently serve up the influential politicians in the state government as well as industrialists in Ludhiana who have deep pockets and keep greasing the palms of pollution control board officials. Owing to weight laid (pressure) on Punjab Pollution Control Board by the state government, they fail miserably to discharge their duties which is to crack whip on errant industrial units. Secondly, increased vehicular congestion on city roads continue to add to air pollution levels of the city. Introducing odd/even formula is a possible solution for the problem,” added Seechewal.

WHO report flays PPCB claim of reducing air pollution

With the world health organisation (WHO) report out, towering claims by the Punjab Pollution Control Board that the pollution levels in Ludhiana has been brought down upto 50% fell flat on Thursday. PPCB chairman Manpreet Chatwal claimed through a report that the pollution control board owing to holding massive plantation drives and shifting of polluting industrial units to other areas and ban on paddy/wheat straw burning has decreased pollution level upto 45%.

National Productivity Council vice-chairman Badish Jindal said PPCB has not put serious efforts to contain air-pollution levels. Paddy /wheat straw burning still goes on unabated and almost every farmer is indulged in it. Vehicular pollution has increased manifold over the year, nothing concrete has been done so far to contain it either.

Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha general secretary Arun Mitra said the PPCB did not put serious efforts to control air pollution in Ludhiana.

The authenticity of the report or survey conducted by the PPCB needs to be checked and thoroughly testify the parameters being adhered to while conducting and compiling the survey.

PPCB defies WHO report

PPCB chairman Manpreet Chatwal said with Ludhiana ranked as 12th most polluted city by the WHO in a recent report released on Thursday, PPCB may have invited its share of criticism varying from

environmentalist to industrialists and city residents but it has defied these report citing that currently there is no system in place measure particulate matter (PM) 2.5 in Ludhiana. “Therefore, we have written to the Central Pollution

Control Board (CPCB) and demanded that officials of WHO be invited for meeting where authenticity of reports released by them can be testified,” he added.

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