25 hot spots crucial to curbing air pollution in district to be identified, says state pollution regulatory body
The Uttar Pradesh pollution control board (UPPCB) has directed district officials to identify different hotspots in Ghaziabad in areas which face issues of garbage dumping and burning, road dust, industrial emission, heavy volume of traffic and those which have construction activities, among others.
The directions have been issued for 16 non-attainment cities of the state, including Ghaziabad, which have high pollution levels and need to take pollution control measures ahead of the approaching winter season. Last year, officials had identified seven hotspot areas in the district while this year, they are planning to increase the number to about 25, with active participation from residents.
“The process of identifying hotspots is underway. We have also asked residents to send us a list of such areas, along with photographs, so that such areas can be included in the hotspot list. These will be closely monitored with the help of quick response teams and flying squads. We have already prepared our winter action plan which we have started implementing,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer of UPPCB.
Last year, officials had identified areas such as Sahibabad, Hindon Vihar, Pasonda, NH-9 as hotspots. This year, officials expect that the number of hotspots will be about 25 in number at district level.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), on the other hand, had in 2019 identified only Sahibabad as one of the hotspots in Ghaziabad.
“This year, we have so far identified several hotspot areas where construction activity is expected. These include Raj Nagar Extension, Siddharth Vihar and Vasundhara. For industrial emissions, we have so far identified the South Side GT Road Industrial Area and Site IV Industrial area. Areas affected by dumping and burning of solid waste include BS Road Industrial Area, Anand Industrial Area and solid waste dumping sites of the municipal corporation,” Sharma added.
The identification process will be completed in one week, after which the winter action plan will be implemented.
Ghaziabad city, in 2019, has topped the list of the most polluted cities on several occasions during the winter months.
According to UPPCB records, the city in 2019 had 31 days when the air quality spiked to ‘severe’ category in range of 401 to 500 on the air quality index (AQI), on a scale of zero to 500. For another 67 days in 2019, the AQI was recorded under the ‘poor’ category which ranges from 301 to 400.
“Implementation is the major issue when it comes to regulation and enforcement against polluting factors. Steps such as preparation of action plan and identification of hotspots, etc., should have been done during the first part of the year. By this time, officials should have started with enforcement in order to tackle air pollution,” said Akash Vashishtha, a city-based environmentalist.
The district at present has four Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) – at Vasundhara, Indirapuram, Sanjay Nagar and Loni.
According to official records, the average PM2.5 levels at Indirapuram were 69.25 micrograms per cubic metres (mpcm) from January to August in 2019. During the same period this year, the average PM2.5 levels were 68 mpcm, both of which are higher than the standard limit of 60 mpcm.
Likewise, the average PM2.5 levels during the same period last year at Vasundhara stood at 98.75 mpcm while the average during the same period was 77.29 mpcm in the current year.
The average PM10 levels at the four stations were recorded in range of 137.32 mpcm to 168.18 mpcm from January to August in the current year. The standard PM10 limit is 100 mpcm.
“We have written to our members to identify areas which are affected by road dust or have instances of garbage burning, etc. The list will be forwarded to UPPCB in the next two-three days. Further, we have suggested that members of civil society should also be allowed to conduct surprise inspection at sites, including industrial units, so that violations can be detected,” said Colonel (retired) TP Tyagi, president of the apartment owners’ federation.
On September 19, Bhure Lal – the chairperson of the Environment Pollution (prevention and control) Authority (EPCA) – had visited the district for an inspection and directed officials to control fugitive dust, roadside parking, burning of solid and plastic waste, besides preparing a parking plan to prevent roadside parking of vehicles.