CHENNAI: The people of Chennai woke up to a hazy Monday morning, even as the national capital improved somewhat from the toxic smog blanket that was enveloping the NCR on Sunday.
The air quality index (AQI) for particulate matter 2.5 (PM) was recorded at 193 ug/m3 at Manali, 162 ug/m3 at the Chennai US consulate and 187 ug/m3 at Alandur as of 6 pm on Monday.
Though Chennai's air quality has oscillated between good and bad in the past, the numbers documented on Monday have drawn the attention of the public, mainly due to weather bloggers and the Twitterati drawing parallels to the situation in Delhi this time.
Independent weather blogger Pradeep John popularly referred to as ' Chennai's weatherman' wrote in a Facebook post," The hazy and polluted air which is choking Delhi and North India for last one week will be pushed towards entire East coast of India including Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu next week".
He has also predicted that most parts of Tamil Nadu will witness hazy skies in the next week, with the AQI of PM 2.5 expected to range anywhere between 200 -300.
The Indian meteorological department (IMD) however has denied any correlation between the air pollution in Delhi and Chennai, even as several air dispersion models indicated plumes of smoke travelling across India from the capital.
In a media interaction on Monday, N Puviyarasan, Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai attributed the dip in Chennai's air quality to smog (a mixture of smoke and fog).
N Puviyarasan, Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai attributed the dip in Chennai's air quality to smog ( a mixture of smoke and fog).
“The moisture-laden air coming in from the sea has mixed with the pollutants in the air( due to vehicular and industrial emissions) resulting in smog. The temperature in Chennai today is considerably low at 26-degree Celcius while the relative humidity is high (95), thus leading to hazy skies. Once the temperature rises, the smog will go away,” he said establishing that Delhi air pollution is in no way related to the hazy Chennai skies.
Even otherwise, the figures catalogued in Chennai on Monday are disturbing if not alarming, say environmental activists. According to the Indian National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), the permissible level for PM 2.5 in the air is between 0 and 60 ?g/m3 and anything above 250 ?g/m3 is categorised as “severe”. While Chennai has not yet touched the red line, these numbers are a clear indicator of the direction the city is heading in, asserts, Arun Krishnamurthy, founder, Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI). “It is not like we have excellent air quality in Chennai. It is relatively better than Delhi only because this is a coastal city. The fresh sea breeze helps in bringing down the pollution levels. However, on the lines of management vehicular and power plants emissions our city is no better,”, he says.
Being a coastal town has come as a saving grace, but this might not always favour the city, given the non-existent precautionary measures and the superficial public awareness on the matter. Surprisingly, there are also no documented preventive measures to curb air pollution in the city, alleges Arun Krishnamurthy.
However, the responsibility should be equally shouldered by the government, the manufacturers or industrialists and the citizens, he opines."The government is now shifting towards eco-vehicles, which will draw energy from electricity, which once again traces its source back to thermal power plants. Now, this industry cannot be outright shutdown, owing to its economic importance and its livelihood opportunities, but the government can invest in renewable energy sources, thus creating an alternate thriving industry as well catering to the environmental needs ." While manufacturers can help by keeping a check on the emission levels of their industries, people can contribute by avoiding burning waste among other things, he says.
When contacted if the state environment department has undertaken any measures to curb the menace of air pollution so far, a senior official said, “We are monitoring the situation closely. The situation in Chennai today was caused due to local conditions and there is nothing to worry. If the pollution goes up, we will take the necessary steps.”...