Air Quality Index worsens in Andhra Pradesh

Post-Diwali, CPCB reports that fireworks are not the sole reason for air pollution in Andhra
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

VISAKHAPATNAM: In the aftermath of the Deepavali festival, concerns about air pollution have been raised beyond the traditional association with lights, crackers, and festivities. While acknowledging the impact of burning crackers on air pollution, it is important to note that fireworks are not sole contributors to the concerning air quality levels reported by the board.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reported ‘very poor’ air quality index (AQI) levels in several districts on Monday. Chittoor topped the list with highest AQI of 350, followed closely by Visakhapatnam at 322. Moreover, three other districts experienced ‘poor’ AQI levels, including Rajamahendravaram at 255, Amaravati at 232, Vijayawada at 131 and Tirupati at 208.

Notably, the AQI levels did not surge abruptly post-festival but had been consistently poor in the days leading up to it. On November 10, Visakhapatnam registered an AQI of 219, Chittoor at 141, Vijayawada at 123, Tirupati at 105, Rajamahendravaram at 119, and Amaravati at 107. The following day, on November 11, Visakhapatnam witnessed an AQI of 244, Chittoor at 241, Vijayawada at 127, Tirupati at 110, Rajamahendravaram at 144, and Amaravati at 125. Continuing this trend on November 12, Visakhapatnam reported an AQI of 229, Vijayawada at 142, Tirupati at 155, Rajamahendravaram at 153, and Amaravati at 145.

Discussing the surge in air pollution during the winter, former head of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Andhra University AJ Solomon Raju explained, “The causes of air pollution vary by location. In the case of Vizag, the presence of numerous industries, high population density, and a steady increase in the number of vehicles contribute significantly. The preference for personal vehicles over public transport for convenience has become commonplace, and many households now own multiple vehicles, thus increasing pollution.”

Further explaining the climatic phenomenon behind winter air pollution, he said, “Cold air, being denser and slower-moving than warm air, tends to trap air pollution, preventing its efficient dispersal. This effect is particularly pronounced at night due to lower temperatures and the limited circulation of pollutants. Additionally, the degradation of biological material from trees contributes to bio-pollution. Cold air acts as a blanket during temperature inversions, covering the ground and trapping pollutants beneath it. The slow movement of cold air further hinders the whisking away of pollutants. Consequently, air pollution tends to linger and be inhaled at higher rates during the winter, creating challenges in various locations that are not unique to a specific area.”

Solomon acknowledged the potential impact of insufficient tree cover on rising air pollution in the city but also commended the GVMC for their efforts. He noted that the lack of trees could contribute to the issue.
However, he appreciated the steps taken by the GVMC, specifically mentioning the planting of trees on road medians as part of their initiative to enhance green cover in the city.

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The New Indian Express