Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to challenge the recent report prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in which eight cities have been listed among worst for air pollution over a period of five years from 2010 onwards.

As per report tabled in the Lok Sabha on April 6 by Union minister of state for environment Mahesh Sharma, Punjab has bagged the third position after Maharashtra (with 17 cities) and Uttar Pradesh (15 cities) in term of high levels of air pollution. The eight cities of Punjab which were included in the list were Derabassi, Gobindgarh, Jalandhar, Khanna, Ludhiana, Naya Nangal, Dera Baba Nanak and Patiala.

Till date, the state has four ambient air quality monitoring stations installed at Amritsar, Ludhiana, Mandi Gobindgarh and Patiala along with 24 air monitoring stations in urban and four in rural areas.

PPCB chairman K S Pannu said the readings at these monitoring stations over the years clearly show that barring a certain period (when crop residue is set on fire) the ambient air quality remains satisfactory to moderate.

Pannu said the state authorities were never taken into confidence while preparing the report and they were not sure if the data reflected the exact readings of the monitoring stations. “We have written to the CPCB asking them for the details of the data, which has been used to prepare the report”, the PPCB chairman said.

As per the CPCB report, every third city in the country failed to meet the national air quality standards. The report had also put seven cities in Himachal Pradesh including Baddi, Damtal, Kala Amb, Nalagarh, Sunder Nagar, Paonta Sahib and Parwanoo as most polluted cities of the country.

According to Pannu, the air quality becomes a cause of concern at the onset of the winters due to various reasons including stubble burning. However, he said, immediately after wheat sowing, the monitoring stations reflect fall in air pollution. He also said last year, the monitoring stations at Amritsar, Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh started reflecting ambient air quality index (AQI) of 240, 283 and 286 micrograms/m3, respectively even as Delhi’s air quality was still in the severe bracket.

He said the sudden rise in air pollution was due to stubble burning and the phenomena of ‘winter inversion’, in which suspended particulate matter gets concentrated in the lower strata of the atmosphere. He said as the dispersion of pollutants falls during the winter season, the air quality in the state reflects poor readings for around 25 days. But this happens across the state. If the CPCB report has used this data in the report then why have they not included cities like Moga and Faridkot in the list, as air quality falls across the state during the winter months?

He said it was quite surprising that areas like Baba Dera Nanak, Naya Nangal and even Chandigarh have been put on the list.


Source: April 29, 2018, The Times of India