BENGALURU: The quality of air in the city has taken a severe beating over the past five years. From a satisfactory level in 2011, the quality has been downgraded to a moderate level in 2015.
What this literally translates to is breathing discomfort to children and older adults as well as people with lung and heart problems.
These are findings collated by Karnataka State Pollution Control Board on Air Quality Index (AQI) using data collected over the last five years through its air quality monitoring stations at various parts of Bengaluru. The AQI stood at 90.6 in 2011 and rose by 24 per cent to 112.3 in 2015.
As per national quality standards, the air quality is considered ‘good’ if it is less than 50 and is rated ‘satisfactory’ if it is below 100. However, barring 2011, the Index value has been above 100, which pushes it into the ‘moderate’ category.
Vehicles will have to take a prime share of the blame. “There has been a tremendous increase in the pollutant, particulate matter, during the last five years due to the massive proliferation of vehicles. Harmful gases released by vehicles are directly responsible for a 42 per cent increase in PM pollution,” said a KSPCB source. PM refers to fine dust which is less than ten microns and causes numerous respiratory problems.
According to statistics from the Bengaluru Traffic Police, the total number of registered vehicles in the State (up to July 2016) stands at 64,23,785.
For the purpose of data analysis, eight areas in the city have been taken into consideration and individually monitored over the last five years: Mysore Road, Yeshwantpur, Yelahanka, City (KSR) railway station, Victoria Hospital, ITPL, Peenya Industrial Area and Saneguruvanahalli near Basaveshwaranagar.
Their quality indices have been calculated for each year and the average taken as the annual average.
The only minor consolation is that the AQI has gone down by 2 points from 2014 to 2015.
AQI is calculated based on presence of PM, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and other gases.