HYDERABAD: Hyderabadis are breathing the second-most toxic air in southern India. According to Greenpeace’s latest report released on Thursday, the capital city of Telangana is faring extremely poorly in terms of two atmospheric air quality parameters of PM 2.5 and PM 10 emissions. The report finds that Hyderabad has seen a sharp increase in pollution levels, in both these parameters, making it the second-worst among 10 major cities in southern India and it is just marginally behind Visakhapatnam.
The pollution level of cities were analysed between November 20, 2020 to November 20, 2021 and the results were compared with both the prescribed air quality standards as referred by WHO and National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQS).
The report finds that in terms of PM2.5, which is particulate matter of a very fine size, Hyderabad had an annual average of a little over 40 points, higher than NAAQS and WHO annual standards which are at 40 points and 5 points respectively. In terms of PM 10, the city had an annual average of 75 to 80 points. The NAAQS and WHO annual standards suggest this pollutant must not exceed 60 points and 15 points respectively. The city, however, only marginally exceeds the national standards.
The report also mentions where exactly the problem points are in the city. Amongst the six pollution monitoring sites, the highest annual pollution levels were observed in Sanath Nagar, followed by Zoo Park and Bolarum both in terms of PM 2.5 and PM 10. In terms of PM 2.5, Sanathnagar had an annual average of nearly 50 points, much higher than the State average. In terms of PM 10, the worst hit was Zoo Park with PM 10 levels exceeding 100 points.
Vehicles are main culprit: Study
The researchers point out that vehicular pollution is the main culprit, which did not abate despite multiple lockdowns during the period of survey.
Avinash Chanchal, Campaign Manager of Greenpeace India, says: “The data shows that lockdown is not a solution to air pollution. Relatively lesser economic activity and vehicles are also putting us in a dangerous position. Past source apportionment studies by CPCB have indicated that the main contributor of PM2.5 and PM10 is vehicular pollution in Hyderabad. It contributes around 50 per cent of total pollution. We have to prioritise the immediate shift to clean energy and clean transport to stop more damage.”
He further stated that cities like Hyderabad are heavily focussing on improving infrastructure for private vehicles and not public transport.