Both the state and the central governments may be working on making the industrial city a “smart” city, but it has been ranked 12th by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in terms of pollution levels. The readings were taken by the WHO on particulate matter (PM) 2.5 annual mean (micrograms per cubic metres) for 3,000 cities in 103 countries.

Officials of the Punjab Pollution Control Board have blamed the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, and the Transport Department for not doing enough to check the high air pollution in the city.

An environmental engineer said the latest readings by the WHO revealed that Ludhiana recorded 122 micrograms levels of pollution (per cubic metre).

As per the WHO 2014 ratings, Ludhiana was ranked 15th with 91 micrograms per cubic metre.
“The particular annual mean is about three times the Indian standards and 12 times the WHO standards of 10 micrograms per cubic metres,” he said, adding that the lackadaisical approach adopted by the civic body and the Transport Department was to be blamed for higher pollution levels.

“Unclean roads are the major factor contributing to rising levels of air pollution. There is no regular sweeping of roads in the city, which adds to the problem. The pollution level will immediately decline if all roads in the city are cleaned regularly. Secondly, more than 50,000 diesel auto rickshaws are plying in the city on a daily basis, which is alarming. Unfortunately, till date there has been no consensus on the issue in the Transport Department,” said the official.

Another official posted at the PPCB’s Patiala office that deals with air pollution said sulphur dioxide was well within the limits. The nitrogen oxide particles too were within the limits, but a PM of 10 was the major concern. It was caused due to dust at the roadsides and vehicular pollution, he added.

An MC official said even during a survey regarding the “smart” city few months ago, a majority of residents had expressed their concern over the rising pollution. “For making Ludhiana a ‘smart’ city, we need to make smart efforts, which is possible only with the strict implementation of laws,” he said.

Source: May 13, 2016, The Tribune