Ghaziabad’s air is health hazard for most days of the current year
For most of this year, Ghaziabad residents have been inhaling particulate matter over and above the prescribed safe limits, according to records from the central pollution control board (CPCB).
HT accessed the CPCB records for the 301-day period from January 1 to October 27 and analysed the number of days the city exceeded the safe limits for coarse particulate matter (PM10, that has diameter of less than 10 microns) and ultra fine particulate matter (PM2.5, diameter less than 2.5 microns). According to the CPCB, the standard limit for PM10 is 100 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m³) while the limit for PM2.5 is 60μg/m³, which are in any case much higher than the World Health Organization (WHO) limits of 20 μg/m³ and 10μg/m³, respectively.
CPCB has four monitoring stations in Ghaziabad -- Indirapuram, Loni, Sanjay Nagar and Vasundhara.
The Indirapuram station recorded 181 days when PM10 safe limits were exceeded, and 120 days when PM2.5 levels were crossed. This affected prime locality of Indirapuram and nearby residential areas of Makanpur, Kanwani etc.
Likewise, the Vasundhara monitoring station (which caters to localities of Vasundhara, Vaishali, Kaushambi etc) had high PM10 levels on 191 days, while PM2.5 levels were off on 146 days.
Loni was the worst of the four locations with 234 days of high PM10 levels and 156 days for PM2.5. Sanjay Nagar station caters to prime localities of Raj Nagar, Sanjay Nagar and Kavi Nagar saw PM10 levels beyond limits on 194 days while PM2.5 levels were beyond limits on 139 days.
“Ghaziabad agencies have no plan to tackle pollution. Constant high levels of PM10 and PM2.5 cause severe health issues for residents and they continue to suffer silently day by day. It is only when winter arrives, officials huddle together to should show some activity and that too due to pressure of CPCB and Supreme Court appointed Environment(Pollution and Control) Authority,” said Akash Vashishtha, a city-based environmentalist and a lawyer.
“We hardly see any activity during the major part of year other than winters when Grap is implemented. Construction works, garbage burning and vehicle emission besides industrial emission take heavy toll of environment and even the health of children, senior citizens are at risk,” said Kuldeep Saxena, coordinator of Confederation of trans-Hindon RWAs which is also contesting a case at the National Green Tribunal for shifting out of landfill site from Indirapuram.
Authorities, meanwhile, say they are doing their best.
“There has to be zero tolerance towards the pollution and there has to be coordinated efforts of the different cities in the Delhi-NCR region rather than cities trying to tackle pollution on their own. While keeping this in mind, we have recently written to the authorities in Delhi to work jointly to tackle e-waste issues in Loni,” said Ajay Shankar Pandey, district magistrate of Ghaziabad.
The Ghaziabad district is one of the 16 districts in the state of Uttar Pradesh which are listed as non-attainment cities in terms of having high levels of pollution. In June last year, the UPPCB has chalked out separate comprehensive action plans for the non-attainment cities including Ghaziabad.
“We are taking up different measures listed under the plan. The district is located under the Indo-Gangetic plains and affected by loose soil. Besides, there is growing vehicle base and construction activities which compound pollution issues. On our part, we have ensured that industrial units are operating only when they install air pollution control systems and new ones are given consent to operate only when they have installed the systems,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer of UPPCB.
The medical experts said that prolonged exposure to higher PM10 and PM2.5 levels has formed a vicious cycle which is affecting health of residents especially children and also decreasing their immunity levels in long run.
“What we have observed during past 4-5 years that residents have become used to live in such conditions without knowing how much the high pollution levels is affecting them. Prolonged exposure causes respiratory illness, allergies, besides affecting lungs and also proving carcinogenic. We have patients in form of children who are getting affected with asthma and allergies and the numbers increase every year,” said Dr Ashish Agarwal, president of Indian Medical Association – Ghaziabad.