Patna grapples with ‘severe’ air pollution after 2 years of clean action plan

  • As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) assessment, AQI of Patna was found in the range of ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ on Sunday.
Straw and stubble burning by farmers are a major cause of air pollution in north India.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Straw and stubble burning by farmers are a major cause of air pollution in north India.(HT FILE PHOTO)
Published on Jan 11, 2021 03:33 PM IST
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Reported by HT Correspondent

Patna’s air quality index hovered in the range of ‘poor’ to ‘severe’ in the first week of January despite two years of clean air action plan for the state capital and two other cities by the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB).

The air quality index (AQI) is a measure of five chief pollutants: particulate matter with a diameter less than 10 micrometres (PM10), particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5), ozone (O3), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), and Carbon Monoxide (CO).

The Central government has released 102 crore to the BSPCB in November last year) to ensure enforcement of the clean air action plan and empower local bodies to reduce the level of pollutants in the air.

As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) assessment, AQI of Patna was found in the range of ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’ on Sunday. BSPCB chairman Ashok Ghosh said that the board had written to all the concerned departments to take prompt action to check release of pollutants in the air. “Enforcement of the plan lies in the hands of various government departments,” Ghosh said.

The BSPCB has also recently tied up with the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) to launch a crackdown on brick-kilns not following the newer zigzag technique to reduce emission. “The UNDP would provide real time data on stubble burning also,” said Ghosh.

Air quality analyst of the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), citing AQI data of the past three years of Patna, claimed that people of the state capital were forced to breathe the worst quality of air in the month of January. “AQI of Patna on January 1 at 4pm was found to be in the severe category, which is considered the worst,” said the CEED official.

The CEED analyst said that lack of coordination among rule enforcing departments, burning of solid fuel, unrestrained plying of polluting vehicles, open burning of wastes and poor management of dust at the contraction sites were the major factors responsible for ‘low hanging fruits’ that led to severe degradation of air quality. “Low hanging fruits can be managed with serious intervention of the law enforcing machineries,” he said.

Another environmental activist said that dust particles, which is a bane for Gangetic plains, could be managed by regular spraying of water on under construction roads and roads with heavy traffic. “Water shall be sprayed on trees along the road to improve the AQI,” he said. Ghosh said that the board had allotted funds to the Patna municipal corporation (PMC) to purchase water sprinklers.

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