VIJAYAWADA: Depletion of greenery, sharp rise in construction activity and vehicular pollution have taken a toll on the air quality in Vijayawada, where particulate matter 10 (PM10) reading is alarmingly high and worse than in Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Kurnool and Nellore. The Central Pollution Control Board has declared all the five cities as non-attainment areas with respect to Ambient Air Quality India (2011-15) and World Health Organisation (WHO) report 2014/2018.
While the PM10 safe limit is 60 micrograms per cubic metre (as per the CPCB’s National Air Ambient Quality Standards), the annual average PM10 reading in the city is 104 micrograms per cubic metre for the past three years. Average PM10 level in Guntur is 78 micrograms per cubic metre, followed by 71 micrograms in Kurnool and Visakhapatnam, and 66 micrograms in Nellore.
Construction activity, indiscriminate burning of garbage and rise in vehicular pollution in Vijayawada after Amaravati was declared the State capital are some of the major factors that contributed to the rise in PM10 level, experts opined.
Speaking to TNIE, T Sri Kumar, an environmentalist and a Physics lecturer of Andhra Loyola College, said the worsened air quality is having a major impact on the public health. “Due to exposure to high concentration of PM10 level, many people are prone to asthma attacks, high blood pressure and increased risk of heart ailments. Air pollution can also lead to premature death,” he explained, and urged the pollution control board to take urgent measures to tackle the situation in the city.
Special Chief Secretary (Environment, Forest, Science and Technology) Neerabh Kumar Prasad stressed the need for an action plan and micro-planning to reduce PM10 level in the city. So, Neerabh Kumar Prasad has directed the Pollution Control Board to coordinate with the municipal administration department, realtors and other stakeholders to take steps to reduce air pollution with the help of an online real time monitoring system.
Commenting on the major cities in the State being accorded the non-attainment status, Prasad said, “While cold storages are a major cause of pollution in Guntur, it is industries in cities like Visakhapatnam and rice mills in Nellore and Kurnool.”