BENGALURU: Following a directive issued by the National Green Tribunal to set up a committee, to bring down the rising levels of air pollution in the state, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has recently complied with the directive. A government order was issued on November 29 and the first meeting of the body on taking steps to curb pollution will take place on Monday.
The Central Pollution Control Board billed four cities in Karnataka as ‘non-attainment cities’ – with pollution levels above national permissible limits, out of 13 in South India in its 2016 report. Bengaluru, Davangere, Hubballi-Dharwad and Kalaburgi are figured in the list for having high particulate matter levels (PM10 and PM2.5).
The convenor of the new six-member committee is to be headed with the Principal Secretary of Ecology and Environment. Top officials of Transport, Agriculture, BBMP, Industries and KSPCB are other members of the committee.
A senior pollution board official said, “Air pollution levels have steadily increased not just in the four cities, but also many other cities across the state. The shooting up of PM10 levels is particularly alarming. An increase of this pollutant will result in lungs getting severely affected – resulting in bronchitis, wheezing and asthma.”
Highlighting the Air Quality Index stats for Karnataka (for the financial year 2017-2018), the official said that out of 23 cities surveyed, only six had a good result. Mandya, Mysore, Madikeri, Chitradurga and Bhadravathi and an area in Davangere did not have higher pollution levels, majorly impacting the public. The remainder had PM10 levels beyond 60 in Bidar, Tumukuru and in Davangere; which clearly revealed that people in these regions were highly affected with breathing distress compared with other districts.
Out of the 16 locations surveyed in Bengaluru, 15 of them were ‘highly polluted’, excluding S G Halli area that was reported to have ‘safe air’. Central Silk Board on Hosur Road, near TERI office in Domlur and ITPL in Whitefield Industrial Area, had pollution levels beyond 100 PM10. Statistics for 2016-2017 showed that seven cities in the state were reported with “good air” while 2015-2016 statistics had 10 cities with pollution within the national permissible PM levels.