Unwholesome City air; time to act now | india | Hindustan Times
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Unwholesome City air; time to act now

THE QUESTION of air-pollution in this town has been frequently raised on various fora, including this newspaper. Another daily recently lamented the absence of stringent auto-emission norms because of which, it said, health of the locals was suffering. Obviously, the reporter was not adequately informed. It?s not that norms for auto-emissions are not in existence.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 13:12 IST

THE QUESTION of air-pollution in this town has been frequently raised on various fora, including this newspaper. Another daily recently lamented the absence of stringent auto-emission norms because of which, it said, health of the locals was suffering. Obviously, the reporter was not adequately informed. It’s not that norms for auto-emissions are not in existence.

These have been there for quite some time and were made more stringent with effect from April 2000.

Different norms for two, three and four wheeler vehicles under two different heads of petrol and diesel have been prescribed with limits set for various noxious gases. The question is of only enforcing them. The MP Pollution Control Board (MPPCB) has singularly failed in doing just that.

Although it has been in existence for more than three decades with all the required paraphernalia, it is strange to see the MPPCB’s inaction in this regard in these days of acute environmental consciousness, frequent mention of “global warming” and “climate change”. Although it is the responsibility of the MPPCB to implement, inter alia, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, yet it has done precious little in this regard.

Elsewhere in the country, however, things are different. Take for instance Gujarat, where the Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) has a definite “Air Action Plan”. Its implementation commenced two years back from Ahmedabad. The GPCB is now extending the “Plan” to seven other smaller cities like Surat, Rajkot, Jamnagar, etc.

Under the “Plan” Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) was first introduced in Ahmedabad where virtually all auto-rickshaws now run on it. The CNG campaign is now being extended to smaller cities.

This apart, the GPCB is going to strictly implement Pollution Under Check (PUC) certification, launch drives against adulteration of fuel, construct air monitoring stations, increase green patches around the cities, reconstruct and re-carpet roads to ensure smooth flow of traffic in a bid to minimize fuel-use and, consequentially, air-pollution.

What is more, the GPCB has different strategies to fight the two kinds of emissions – vehicular and industrial. In Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot the focus will be on vehicular emission while in other cities, like Vapi and Ankleshwar, it will be on
emissions from industries. Local GPCB officials in coordination with civic authorities will monitor the implementation.

For us who have seen the MPPCB only in a comatose state, all this sounds out of this world. With hardly any polluting industry in the town, only vehicular emissions are to be tackled. Yet, even that has not been attempted so far. Hence we have the queer sight in this day and age of heavily smoking two, three and four wheelers sputtering around in the city.

There are areas where the exhaust fumes make eyes burn and one is racked by bouts of coughing. Unless measures are taken now, the problem is soon going to assume alarming proportions and spread to other parts of the town.

Our country may have been exempted under the UN-sponsored Kyoto Protocol from cutting down on emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) up to 2012. That, however, doesn’t mean we should take no action.

Accounting for 3% of the global emission of carbon, we are already reckoned as a big polluter. And, with a changing climate (all too visible even in this town) due to global warming caused by high concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, immediate action is necessary on the part of everyone, more so the MPPCB, to take steps to cut down auto emission.

Emulating the GPCB, it should not delay in taking steps to put in place mechanisms to check and control the progressively fouling air of the city.

By doing so it will not only restrict discharge of life-threatening GHGs into the atmosphere, it will also save the local people from avoidable ill-health, even premature death from pulmonary and heart diseases.