BENGALURU: There was an alarming rise in air pollution, by 47 per cent, in city during Deepavali. While rest of Bengaluru has to put up with it only during this festival season, Regina Gurung identifies five neighbourhoods that breath polluted air through the year. WHO’s air-quality guideline says that PM10 (or Particulate Matter) level should not exceed 20ug/m3, but India’s guidelines allow a much larger margin at 100ug/m3. Yet, Whitefield and Hosur Road exceed this limit too and other three are just a sneeze away.
‘It is like letting our kids smoke 12 cigarettes a day’
(*PM10- 109.3 ug/M3 ; PM2.5-43.8 ug/M3; NO2- 32.5 ug/M3)
Aditya G is a lawyer and resident of the area. When he was a child his grandfather used to point out the horizon from the top of the building. Now standing on the same spot, all he sees is a "haze". With a large volume of construction coming up in the neighbourhood along with heavy traffic, he says he knows a handful of neighbours suffering from respiratory diseases. "We are more scared about our young children. Sending them to ITPL is equivalent to letting them smoke 12 cigarettes," says Aditya. During this year's Deepavali, Whitefield's PM10 levels exceeded the national limit by a whooping 48 per cent. In September, the the level recorded remained high at 109.3 ug/M3. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board official calls the pollution in this area a "peculiar case". "In Whitefield, roads are narrower and buildings rise sky high. This leads to lesser dispersibility of air causing more pollution and haze," explains Dr Lakshmikanth Harthikote, member of State Awareness Committee at KSPCB.
Central Silk Board, Hosur Road
’High incidence of breathing troubles around Silk Board’
(PM10- 113.9 ug/M3; PM2.5- Not monitored; NO2- 33.4 ug/M3)
Santhosh S, an HR professional residing in Hosur Road, just recovered from dengue. He says every month he has to spend on medical bills and he holds pollution responsible. "Back in 2006, this locality was not so bad. Now the traffic is crazy, garment factories are coming up in every nook and corner and there is no space to walk," says Santhosh. "This congestion leads to water logging when it rains," he adds. During the three-day Deepavali the pollution level was 59 per cent higher than normal days. Dr Vivek Anand Padegal, pulmonologist from Fortis Hospital Bannerghatta Road, says that most patients with respiratory trouble are from Silk Board area. According to the transport department data of August 2017, Bengaluru recorded over 70 lakh vehicles on roads. Central Silk Board area records highest number of vehicles on an average mainly because the junction is a gateway to two important IT cluster- Electronic City and the Whitefield, Bellandur area.
‘Factories nearby are leaving soot deposits on our balconies’
(PM10- 98.2 ug/M3; PM2.5- (not monitored); NO2- 31.8 ug/M3)
During Deepavali, Yelahanka exceeded the limit by 40 per cent while the level is 98.2 ug/M3 on other days. Residents of Yelehanka are surprised that despite surrounding greenery there is constant air pollution, but those living near the factories are aware of this. Residents at one of the apartment buildings have even observed grey soot scattered over the balconies and they believe it to be residue from nearby industrial units. When Kaveri Chhetri, a resident of Yelahanka, was house-hunting, she made it a point to look for a place away from these factories. From where she lives now, she can see crimson smoke rising from Rail Wheel Factory every morning.
Swan silk Peenya
Road work is chief bane here
(PM10- 91.4 ug/M3; PM2.5 - 41.7 ug/M3; NO2- 33.0 ug/M3)
During normal days Peenya records PM10 levels that are 17 per cent higher than the limit, and this Deepavali it recorded a 48 per cent increase. Peenya is known to be the oldest industrial area in the city. "Ninety percent of the area is industrial and only 10 per cent is residential," says Dr Lakshmikanth, KSPCB official. The industries may be the polluting but residents say that dug up roads are the main concern. Sandesh Sandy, a resident of Peenya, says that the major cause of pollution near his house is the road construction that has been going on for two years now. "Nobody cares about the pollution caused by this road that connects Peenya with Laggere," he shares. "The main road is good but the inside roads are damaged," adds Sandesh.
Industries pollute in new hotspot
(PM10- 87.8 ug/M3; PM2.5- Not monitored; NO2- 32.5 UG/m3)
The area near Yeshwantpur Police Station has been witnessing alarming pollution levels from 2013, when Centre for Science and Environment identified it as a "pollution hotspot" exceeding the limit by no less than 50 per cent. Pavan K, a media professional regularly has to travel via this route and says pollution can be seen only during peak hours since the route is a national highway. The KSPCB official says that Yeshwantpur is a "rather new industrial destination" so new larger factories are emerging in the region because of its preferable location that connects highways. "Peenya has many industries but most of it are small scale. Yelahanka has few but those are large-scale industries," adds Dr Lakshmikanth.
(*All pollution-levels recorded are for September 2017)