The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, has cited wood burning in the free kitchen, wood/coal-based tandoors in restaurants within the walled city, re-suspension of dust due to traffic movement and diesel generators in the vicinity as the main sources of air pollution leading to loss of sheen of the dome of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
The Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines, attracts lakhs of tourists from across the world every year.
The IIT Delhi conducted the study for the Punjab Pollution Control Board and suggested a number of measures to check pollution in and around the Golden Temple to save the gold-plated dome and marble of the shrine from deposits.
To restore the shimmer of the dome, the gold plating was redone in 1999 after a gap of 170 years, when Maharaja Ranjit Singh had got the Sikh shrine gold plated. The authorities get the domes cleaned every year since 1999 so that the sheen can be maintained.
During their study, Arvind K Nema and Mukesh Khare of IIT Delhi scanned areas falling within the 5-km radius from the Golden Temple.
"The possible air pollution sources found in the study area are industrial stacks, vehicular pollution within the walled city, re-suspension of road dust due to traffic movement, wood burning in free kitchen of the shrine, wood/coal based restaurant tandoors within the walled city, diesel generators and burning of crop residue around Amritsar," said Nema.
From monitoring and modelling results, the experts found sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations at the shrine within standards, while particulate matter (PM10) concentration exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). "This is because of high background concentrations of PM10 (55.00 µg/m3) within the city, which seems to be due to natural dust," said the study.
The major contributing source of PM10 was found to be re-suspension of road dust (47%), followed by industries (31%). However, the major contributing source of NO2 was found to be diesel generators (59%), followed by vehicular exhaust (26%).
For NO2, free kitchen within the premises of Golden Temple was also contributing 12% of total NO2 concentration. Major sources of SO2were found to be kitchen (46%) and industries (41%).
The experts have recommended introduction of electric/battery-operated transport, diversion of traffic movements from Hall Gate and installations of air pollution control system at free kitchen.
Meanwhile, PPCB chairman Ravinder Singh said that to monitor the ambient air quality within and around the shrine, a permanent continuous ambient air quality monitoring station, meeting NAAQS guidelines, would be installed within the premises of the shrine. "It will cost Rs 1.15 crore," he added.
He said that the other measures have to be undertaken by the transport department and district authorities, whom the high court had already passed directions.
·Electric-operated three-wheelers and four-wheelers within the walled city.
·Entry of traffic from Hall Gate to Dharam Singh market should be diverted to alternate routes.
·Free kitchen should be re-designed preferably installed with higher stack height of chimney and fitted with wet scrubber.
·Entry of Heavy-duty vehicles and those more than 15 years' old should be banned in the walled city.
·Daily road cleaning using heavy-duty vacuum cleaners, along with sprinkling of water should be introduced to suppress the re-suspension of dust.
·Vertical garden or plants in big pots be placed around the shrine.
·Provide uninterrupted power supply to the surrounding commercial units to avoid use of diesel generator sets or enforce soundless natural gas/LPG based power generators.
·Crop residue/biomass burning should be completely banned around the city.