Hyderabad: Toxic air levels are recording all-time highs in the country, crossing 300 to 400 ug/m3 for particulate matter. Monitoring units have been set up, but ironically measures to control air pollution are yet to be implemented.
The Telangana Pollution Control Board said they have monitoring units which help them measure pollution at different sites but controlling air pollution requires an extensive exercise of co-ordination between various industrial and chemical departments. “We have monitoring units only in the city areas,” a senior TPCB official said. “The government has now come up with a clean air programme, but actual implementation will take at least 5 to 10 years.”
Hyderabad ranks among the 20 most polluted Indian cities. Particulate matter 2.5 (tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause air to appear hazy) levels are found to touch the 100ug/m3 mark in the city. According to the international standards, its level should be 60 ug/m3.
“Pollution is not due to one activity,” environmental engineer B.P.N. Prasad said, “There are several, like industrial emissions, vehicular exhaust fumes, biomass burning and reducing of dust pollution, which require strict regulation. This requires co-ordination between various departments in the state and also co-ordination between state and central government agencies. The changes in production methods, adoption of new technologies and cost factors are proving to be major deterrents.”
Pollution levels in northern cities of Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow and Delhi reached 440 ug/m3 in December 2018, 12 times more than recommended.
Cities occupy 3 per cent of the land but carbon dioxide emissions are as high as 78 per cent in India. To control pollution levels, extensive and stringent steps have to be taken, like strengthening mass transport systems, phasing out old vehicles and introducing e-vehicles, taking action against burning of biomass, garbage and taking strong steps to control industrial emissions. The plan chartered out by the government is yet to reach the states for implementation and the will to make it possible is the biggest task.