Ever rising number of motor vehicles and widespread construction activities continue to remain major source of pollution in the capital city. The rapid rate of urbanisation with increased economic activity has not only encouraged migration but also led to a rise in transit vehicles, industrial output, and thus contributing to various sources of pollution.
Air pollution is, by far, the biggest of the concerns in Hyderabad, followed by industrial emissions. Statistics from over a period of time show that the Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) level in the city has been rising steadily and crossing acceptable limits most of the times.
Among the many sources of pollution, the transport sector is contributing a significant amount, about 49 per cent to be precise, with a direct correlation to increasing RSPM levels. Bad roads too have contributed immensely to air pollution. Dust as a contributor to air pollution is acknowledged by the Pollution Control Board with 33 per cent. And, to add to these, secondary pollutants, bio mass burning, coal combustion and cement are adjudged as rest of the major contributors to air pollution in the city.
The AP Pollution Control Board has recorded dust pollution levels to be 87 micrograms per cubic metre, exceeding the permissible level of 60 micrograms per cubic metre set by the National Air Monitoring Programme. The annual average of RSPM in the city in the year 2000 was about 120 micrograms per cubic metre and in the year 2010, it was recorded as 84 micrograms per cubic metre.
LITTLE ACTION: The APPCB is monitoring ambient air quality at 21 locations manually and by one Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station in Hyderabad city. In 2003, the Central government had asked various States including AP to develop an action plan to tackle various kinds of pollution. Subsequently, the Government of Andhra Pradesh prepared an Action Plan in consultation with all the stake holder departments like Transport, APPCB, Civil Supplies, State Oil Co-ordinator, etc. for lowering air pollution in the HUDA area.
Implementation of Bharat state emission standards-III and IV norms, phasing out vehicles (3 and 4 wheelers) of age more than 15 years, replacement of 2 stroke engines, PUC computerised I&M; Construction of fly overs, road widening, outer ring road, BRT, MMTS, MRTS, Parking facilities, synchronisation of the signals, removing of intercepts, providing timers, foot over bridges for pedestrians, etc were the suggested measures. Also, use of low sulphur fuels, LPG, CNG, low benzene petrol, Bio-diesel and checking fuel adulteration, etc were adopted.
A senior environmental scientist at the PCB said, “RSPM levels are the most dangerous component of airborne particulate contamination that leads to diseases like asthma, migraine, cancer and even heart attacks. Various measures as part of the action plan are under different stages of implementation.” Further, he said, health problems due to air pollution are usually high in winter season as the particulate matter does not dispense.
The official added that the Pollution Control Board with support from the World Bank has undertaken remediation of the most polluted and crucial Noor Mohammed Kunta lake in the city. The project would be executed by next year. He admitted not much has been achieved in terms of noise pollution. However, to protect and restore the 450 year old Hussain Sagar Lake in the heart of the city, chemical effluents from electroplating industries are being lifted to common effluent treatment plant in Jeedimetla.
On the other hand, Thakur Rajkumar Singh, a city-based environmentalist says that the lackadaisical attitude of the PCB has hindered any good for the city. “Air and water pollution have been steadily high. Apart from all the measures, government needs to educate public for efficient and effective utilisation of resources and implement programmes on a war footing basis,” he said.