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Beware! The pollution ‘time bomb’ is ticking in Pune

Friday, 21 March 2014 - 7:08am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA
The Indian Institute of Topical Meteorology (IITM) has revealed that Pune’s pollution level is over twice that of the prescribed national air quality standards. dna talks to experts on what is the solution to prevent the dangerous effects of air pollution on the health of citizens.

Efficient public transport need of the hour

If we want to know why the pollution level in the city is so high, we must first find out the sources of pollution. Is the source only vehicles or something else. As per my opinion, the primary pollutant is the vehicular emission. But, this problem persists in all the developing countries across the globe. The urban air quality is fast deteriorating because of bad public transport. The only solution to the issue is that we need more efficient public transport, so that it discourages citizens to use private vehicles. Increasing the green cover in the city will not reduce particle pollution. We have to reduce vehicular emission, which is the biggest source of pollution in the cities. The industries have been reducing pollution because it is related to their profit margin. The more energy efficient they are all the more they will save. It is mainly the sheer number of vehicles on the city roads that is adding to the pollution. 

--Priyadarshini Karve, Director, Samuchit Envirotech 

Industries too are adding to the problem

There are many reasons why pollution levels in the city is double the national standards as shown by the IITM. Vehicular emission is one of the reasons, but the city also has a number of industrial pockets. We have a chemical industry zone in Sinhagad area along with other chemical factories in and around the city. In Bangalore, the state government is ensuring to set up industries outside the city limits. We have so many industries spread across Pune, which I think cannot be relocated. It is a known fact that Pune’s public transport is not up to the mark and add to it the traffic chaos and mismanagement on the city roads. Our roads are getting chocked with the ever-growing vehicle population every year. The carbon rating is going to increase due to all these issues of vehicular emission. If our public transport is streamlined it will obviously discourage citizens from using private vehicles. By having a good metro rail and public bus network, the citizens will not only save time and money but also contribute to curbing pollution in the city. Nowadays it has become impossible to travel without a two-wheeler, as our public transport and traffic management is extremely poor. 

--Kedar Pathak, Director, Modern Technical Centre

Smaller suspended particles can affect our heart

The smaller suspended particles among the air pollutants like the PM10 and PM2.5 are more dangerous because they enter our lower respiratory tract and can also be absorbed in blood and affect our heart and circulatory system. The large particles can be trapped by our upper respiratory tract, but there is no way to avoid the smaller particles. The particles are so small that even by wearing masks we cannot avoid them, accept for some special industrial masks. The petrol vehicles run by spark plug engine, which creates combustion emitting unburnt fuel, whereas diesel vehicles run by compression of the fuel emitting a lot of soot. Patients who are already suffering from asthama or respiratory diseases, the increased level of pollution can worsen their symptoms. Lot of people are now complaining about chronic cough, asthamatic tendencies, obstructive lung diseases, bronchitis and cardiac problems. The polluting compounds in the air tend to damage our cardio-respiratory system. The air pollution do cause more problems to children below 5 years and adults above 60 years. The government should identify the sources of air pollution and tackle and have a scientific approach in tackling the problem. It should be national policy, which has to be tackled at the national level.

--Dr Sumit Bhatti, ENT surgeon 

What is MPCB doing to control pollution in city?

The IITM’s revelations of city’s pollution reaching a dangerous level is not surprising. Few years back, the Bhure Lal Committee appointed by the apex court had visited the city to study its environment pollution (prevention and control). Even before that, Pune was under the scanner by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). There was also a scheme started for measuring the pollution level at various places in the city. A lot of awareness was also created among the citizens about reducing pollution. However, in the recent years there have been deliberate attempts to downplay all the previous initiatives. The MPCB is an authorised body to control pollution in the state, but what is it doing? Pune’s air pollution has reached such a high level that it is like smoking cigarette. The crux of the issue is that the city needs a sustainable and good public transport. We should not encourage infrastructure, which may help citizens to use personal vehicles. What we need is a war-time effort to improve our public transport system. Metro rail is a good option but it may take at least 20 years before we can actually use it. The PMPML has to be improved and side-by-side there has to be constraints over private vehicles.

--Sujit Patwardhan, Trustee & Founder, Parisar 

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