Air quality bad in Bengaluru, Mysuru, says Greenpeace report

The revelation was made by environment watchdog Greenpeace India, which has cited data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the period November 2020 to November 2021.

Published: 28th January 2022 06:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th January 2022 06:25 AM   |  A+A-

Air Pollution

For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: The three major cities of Bengaluru, Mysuru and Mangaluru in Karnataka are among 10 in South India with air pollution levels exceeding World Health Organisation guidelines despite pandemic-linked lockdowns and restrictions. The revelation was made by environment watchdog Greenpeace India, which has cited data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the period November 2020 to November 2021.

This is in sharp contrast to a recent report by the Delhi-based Centre of Science & Environment lauding Bengaluru’s ability to hold on to gains in air quality made during the Covid-19 lockdown. Apart from the three Karnataka cities, air pollution data from Hyderabad, Chennai, Amaravati, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Puducherry, and Coimbatore were also analysed.

“Coimbatore, Bengaluru, Mangaluru and Amaravati saw annual particulate matter (PM) 2.5 (particles lesser than 2.5 microns) levels exceed WHO guidelines of 5 micrograms per cubic metre by almost 6 to 7 times, while in Mysuru, Kochi, Chennai and Pondicherry, PM2.5  levels exceeded the guidelines by 4 to 5 times,” the report said.

While the annual PM10 (less than 10 microns) levels in Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad exceeded the prescribed WHO guidelines of 15 micrograms per cubic metre by 6 to 7 times, Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Amaravati, Chennai and Kochi recorded data that exceeded the limit by 3 to 4 times. 

Fossil fuel-powered infra work a worry

Mysore, Coimbatore and Pondicherry recorded PM10 levels that exceeded the WHO guidelines for safe air by 2 to 3 times. Greenpeace said the primary contributors to the worsening of air quality are fossil fuel-powered infrastructure development works, industries, transport, waste burning and construction activity. It pointed out that this analysis is a much needed reminder that air pollution is a public health crisis that is not confined to just North Indian cities, and if not acted upon now, the South Indian cities too are not far from cities like Delhi in terms of health and economic impact due to air pollution.

Chronic exposure to air pollution increases the likelihood of asthma, low birth weight, depression, schizophrenia, diabetes, stroke, lung cancer and can cause premature deaths, the report added. “We have to prioritise the immediate shift to clean energy and transport to stop more damage. If we look at Bengaluru’s PM10 data, the annual average in most stations is exceeding not only the WHO guidelines, but National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) levels too,” said Avinash Chanchal, Campaign Manager, Greenpeace India.

The report suggests that the governments in the southern states and city administrations promote decentralised renewable energy solutions such as rooftop solar, creating integrated public transport, non-mechanised transport-friendly infrastructure and addressing other contributors like waste burning, construction sector, industrial emissions and biomass burning.

“The pollution control boards must realise that no level of air pollution is safe and even the long-term exposure of lower concentrations of air pollution can severely impact human health. Thus, the CPCB must revise the current NAAQS for all pollutants based on WHO’s proposed interim target and gradually achieve the revised standards,” Chanchal added.


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