CHENNAI: For the fourth day on a row on Thursday, Chennai’s air quality index(AQI) deteriorated for the worst. The concentration of particulate matter 2.5(PM 2.5) which is the indicator of air quality in a region rose to alarming levels with an AQI of 230 being recorded at Manali, 160 at Chennai US Consulate, 184 at Velachery residential area and 155 at Alandur as of 8 pm on Thursday.
An Air Quality Index (AQI) of 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is moderate,101-150 is unhealthy for sensitive Groups, 151-200 is unhealthy, 201-300 is very unhealthy and an AQI greater than 300 is hazardous. As reported earlier, both the TNPCB and IMD officials have maintained that the situation is a result of local weather conditions and will subside in a week. The relatively low temperature, high relative humidity— measured to be at a 100 per cent on Thursday — low wind speed and unfavourable westerly and northwesterly winds have resulted in the hazy skies, said officials from the regional met department.
Approximately 70 per cent of Chennai’s polluted air is flushed out by the fresh sea breeze. With the aforementioned factors in play, the pollutants remain suspended in the air, thus causing the toxic smog blanket. The condition is expected to persist, probably until Saturday, when the monsoon rain is expected to resume.
Chennai’s air pollution, although, a cause of concern is not new. In fact, the situation in the city has come to notice only because of the national media coverage the Delhi air pollution has been receiving, says Bharath Sundaram, assistant professor of Environment Studies, Krea University. “The situation, however, has thrown light on the non-compliance of rules and regulations by the industries as well the failure on the government’s part to pull up and punish these offenders,” he notes. He points out that even on a national level governments do not pay enough attention to environmental pollution. However, it is highly unlikely that Chennai heads toward a Delhi-like situation, he adds.
According to AIR (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the entire state of Tamil Nadu has been declared as air pollution control area by the state government. This Act mandates the industries to obtain the consent from the Tamilnadu pollution control Board to establish/ operate the unit in the air pollution control area while prohibiting the emission of pollutants in excess of the standards laid down by the Board. Despite the existing regulation, it is common knowledge that industries have been violating these rules. The city’s air quality data released by the TNPCB in the past is a testimony to this fact.
"An expert committee with officials with due technical expertise should be conceived to strictly enforce these rules. The public too can push the government to act", opines Bharath Sundaram....