Dust pollution during winter leads to a spike in particulate matter, which causes respiratory issues when inhaled. (HT Archive)
Dust pollution during winter leads to a spike in particulate matter, which causes respiratory issues when inhaled. (HT Archive)

Dust control cell to be formed ahead of winter pollution spike

HSPCB will set up the dust control and management cell by October to monitor and address dust pollution in the upcoming winter
By Suparna Roy, Gurugram
UPDATED ON SEP 14, 2021 11:17 PM IST

On the directions of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) will set up a dust control and management cell by the next month to keep a check on air pollution levels in winter, officials said on Tuesday.

Along with setting up the cell, the agencies concerned will also be monitoring complaints regarding air pollution across all social media platforms.

S Narayanan, member secretary of HSPCB, said, “In Gurugram, the main issues are dust pollution due to construction and demolition activities, transport, vehicular pollution and burning of solid waste. So, these will be our main focus issues. To manage this, the CAQM has directed us to constitute a dust control and management cell in individual operational departments by October. Along with this, we will address all social media complaints and grievances which will be made through grievance cell.”

The official said that talks are underway with the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority to use their grievance cell for addressing complaints regarding air pollution. A complaint cell will also be set up at the regional offices of the HSPCB.

In January this year, the CAQM, in its second meeting, had reviewed the problem of road dust, a major source of pollutants contributing significantly to particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10. In a letter to all NCR states, it had said, “Controlling dust pollution has been a major challenge and needs much more focused attention in NCR.”

The commission had stated that dust control and management cells must be set up with the specific task of monitoring and implementation of dust control measures. Some dust control measures include mechanical cleaning and sweeping of roads and water sprinkling to reduce dust pollution.

In the first week of October, the CAQM will hold another meeting with districts from multiple states located in the National Capital Region to review the situation.

Pollution levels in Gurugram are usually higher in winter due to smog accumulation. Cool air gets trapped due to cold weather conditions, which leads to an increase in daily pollution levels. Incidents of crop residue burning in neighbouring districts add to the high pollution levels in the National Capital Region, with vehicular pollution, bursting of crackers during the festive season and open burning of waste listed as major causes.

Last year, the district administration compiled a list of the most polluted roads in the city that comprises Sohna Road, Golf Course Road, Golf Course Extension Road, stretch from Hero Honda Chowk to Basai, Dwarka Expressway, stretch from Sector 10 Chowk to Ghadoli village, Mini Secretariat and Vikas Sadan parking, the vehicle training ground near Leisure Valley Park, Huda City Centre in Sector 29, internal roads between sectors 58 and 67, Genpact Chowk, internal roads from sectors 83 to 93 and roads in Udyog Vihar.

“The CAQM has also directed us to control fire at the landfills and open fires. The power department has also been asked to give uninterrupted power supply as no exemptions will be given to different units that are dependent on diesel gensets for electricity, in the absence of power connections. These steps must help us control air pollution in a better manner this year,” Narayanan said.

Several housing complexes and condominiums across Gurugram and Faridabad districts are reliant on diesel generator sets for electricity due to the absence of power connections from state agencies and also for power backup. Besides, industries are also reliant on diesel-powered backup systems to ensure continuous production. However, a blanket ban on diesel generator sets was implemented from 2020 in the city.

For other parts of the state, the HSPCB has also identified red districts where maximum crop residue burning has been noticed. This includes districts of Fatehabad, Karnal, Jind, Kurukshetra, Sirsa and Ambala, among others. In these districts, officials said that there will be a special focus on controlling crop residue burning through regular patrolling, issuing challans to offenders and filing cases against repeat offenders.

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