The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has sounded the death knell for 94 cities in the country where pollution levels are not meeting the set standards. Topping the chart is Maharashtra with 17 cities and Uttar Pradesh with 15 cities. The board has pinned the blame on civic bodies for “not sharing responsibilities” to curb air pollution.
“If civic bodies can provide clean water, why can’t they provide air,” CPCB questioned, while referring to the list of 94 cities and districts that was tabled in the Parliament earlier this month. Dipankar Saha, additional director, head of Air Laboratory and Air Quality at CPCB analysed the data of cities which crossed dangerous PM10 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels between 2011 and 2015.
Based on the ambient air quality monitoring, the data of 22 ‘non-attainment’ states which have failed to meet the prescribed parameters was compiled by the board. “Any parameter which is not within the prescribed parameters for five consecutive years is referred to as non-attainment,” said Saha.
The data reveals that nitrogen dioxide levels were dangerously high in three districts in Maharashtra—Badlapur, Pune and Ulhasnagar. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), NO2 is a toxic gas which can lead to respiratory ailments. The board has blamed encroachments and haphazard parking for high nitrogen dioxide emissions in urban areas. “Slower the traffic, higher the unburnt emissions, especially nitrogen dioxide from vehicles. Local authorities are responsible for safeguarding environment and should ensure free movement of traffic to avoid toxic emissions,” said Saha.
According to CPCB, unscientific disposal of waste has led to major air pollution in almost all 94 cities. “It is ridiculous that burning of waste has become a huge source of air pollution in almost all the cities. Local bodies, which are responsible for waste management, are allowing it,” said Saha. Out of the 94, there is not a single city which meets the standards for PM10. “Construction activities without mitigation measures and open burning are responsible for increasing PM10 levels,” said Saha.