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WHO listed Gaya and Patna as the fourth and fifth most polluted cities in the world- M. Mishra

WHO listed Gaya and Patna as the fourth and fifth most polluted cities in the world- M. Mishra
June 17
12:42 2013

PATNA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently listed Bihar’s Gaya and Patna as the fourth and fifth most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM 2.5 concentration, yet they failed to find a place in the Central Government’s National Clean Air Plan (NCAP).

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) recently released a concept note on NCAP, which envisaged reducing air pollution of 100 cities in the country by 50% in the next five years. Ironically, none of the cities of Bihar could be included in the action plan despite the fact that most cities are grappling with worst kind of pollution.

Talking to media persons, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED)—a national level non-governmental watchdog on environment and renewable energy—Ramapati Kumar urged the State Government as well as the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) to step in and facilitate inclusion of the most polluted cities in the NCAP.

As per the WHO database on air pollution, released last month, Patna’s PM 2.5 concentration was recorded at 144 micrograms per cubic metre, while the scenario in Gaya was worse with its PM 2.5 concentration being 149 per cubic metre.

PM 2.5 is the level of ultra-fine particles of less than 2.5 microns which invade human lungs and cause serious health problems, including respiratory disorder and cancer.

The WHO document listed Kanpur at the top of the global list of most polluted cities with PM 2.5 concentration of 173 micrograms per cubic metre, followed by Faridabad (172), and Varanasi (151). Delhi is sixth on the list.

BSPCB chairman Ashok Kumar Ghosh, though acknowledged the gravity of air pollution in Patna and Gaya, he challenged the WHO report, claiming that it was flawed as it was prepared on the basis of calculation of just one parameter (PM 2.5). “How can a city be called polluted on PM 2.5 count only? The air consists of other vital ingredients carbon monoxide, ozone and petrol emission, among others,” Ghosh explained.

While welcoming the Central Government’s gesture by putting the draft NCAP in the public domain for inviting their suggestion, Kumar also wrote a letter to the Union Minister of Environment Harsh Vardhan asking him to reconsider the ministry’s NCAP and ensure inclusion Bihar’s cities in it.

“The NCAP also fails in considering some important aspects of air pollution management, like targets of emission reduction. The draft concept note for NCAP had pollution reduction targets of 35% in three years and 50% reduction in five years. However, these targets have been removed in the document issued for public comments,” added the CEED CEO.

He said the NCAP must clear implementation framework and monitoring of emissions reduction targets with deadlines. “The list of cities under NCAP needs to be updated based on the latest available data and it should not be based on 2011-2015 data,” he said.

Ramapati Kumar said since the State Government and State agencies are critical for implementation of city specific action plan under NCAP, the NCAP must increase funding for States and also includes the capacity building for them.

“NCAP talks about promoting low-cost indigenous monitoring stations. In keeping with gravity of the situation, the NCAP needs to facilitate private investment and citizen involvement in such initiatives to broad-based air quality monitoring,” he said, adding that it was also not clear how NCAP overlaps with other laws and plans that govern cities and sectors.

The CEED also favoured integration of city-based plans to control ambient air pollution on the pattern of master plan and municipal solid waste rules etc. “The NCAP only focuses on cities while it acknowledges that the pollution is a problem in rural areas also, hence it has to take a more regional approach to be equitable to all India and not just cities,” added Kumar.

CEED Programs Director AbhishekPratap said there was still the scope for the state agencies to press for inclusion of Bihar cities, as the NCAP had so far listed only 94 cities out of 100 in its action plan.

Kumar and Pratap advocated installation of the ambient air pollution monitoring stations in other cities of Bihar. Currently, observatory stations are set up in Patna, Gaya and Muzaffarpur. They also demanded setting up of 20 more monitoring stations in Patna, which currently has only one.

 

WHO listed Gaya and Patna as the fourth and fifth most polluted cities in the world- M. Mishra - overview
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