Faulty pol­lu­tion norms cut peo­ple’s life span

Data from TS is wor­ry­ing; and each pol­lu­tion source needs to be plugged

Deccan Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - DONITA JOSE I DC

Hy­der­abadis are los­ing 2.3 years of their lives be­cause the gov­ern­ment has set the safe level of pol­lu­tion at a higher tol­er­ance level than rec­om­mended by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), gravely en­dan­ger­ing the health of the peo­ple

For the same rea­son, pro­duc­tive life has been re­duced by four years on aver­age na­tion­ally, a re­port on the Air Qual­ity Life In­dex pre­pared by the En­ergy Pol­icy In­sti­tute at Univer­sity of Chicago said.

This comes as a re­al­ity check on the pol­lu­tion norms set by the in-house pol­lu­tion mon­i­tor­ing agency, Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board.

Th­ese num­bers are highly po­lit­i­cal. They are kept at this level to al­low in­dus­tries to be able to con­tinue their pol­lu­tion and not have to spend on cleaner tech­nol­ogy.

— PROF. BABU RAO, re­tired chief sci­en­tist from the Hy­der­abad-based In­dian In­sti­tute of Chem­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy

Hy­der­abadis are los­ing 2.3 years of their lives be­cause the gov­ern­ment has set the safe level of pol­lu­tion at a higher tol­er­ance level than rec­om­mended by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO), gravely en­dan­ger­ing the health of the peo­ple

This comes as a re­al­ity check on the pol­lu­tion norms set by the in-house pol­lu­tion mon­i­tor­ing agency, Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board (CPCB), which al­lows three times higher lev­els of pol­lu­tion than what the WHO con­sid­ers ideal.

Ac­cord­ing to the CPCB, air qual­ity is ‘good’ if the par­tic­u­late mat­ter of size 2.5 (PM2.5) is at 40 units or be­low for a 24-hour aver­age.

WHO sets a stan­dard at 10 units. Higher than the con­cen­tra­tion of par­tic­u­late mat­ter, the more haz­ardous the air. PM2.5 com­prises smaller par­ti­cles which en­ters the lungs.

The re­port which was pre­pared by the En­ergy Pol­icy In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Chicago adds that the gov­ern­ment pol­icy must stick to WHO stan­dards to save hu­man lives more ef­fi­ciently.

The re­port only shows a par­tial pic­ture as it uses pol­lu­tion data from 2015. For Hy­der­abad, the study pegs PM2.5 pol­lu­tion at 32 units. Data from the State PCB shows that PM2.5 pol­lu­tion was mea­sured at 91 units at Sanath­na­gar and 89 at Charmi­nar in Fe­bru­ary 2017. In Novem­ber 2016, the PM2.5 read­ing was 75 units at Balana­gar.

An ex­pert says that the CPCB had de­lib­er­ately kept easy tar­gets to re­duce ex­pen­di­ture on pol­lu­tion nega­tion. “Th­ese num­bers are highly po­lit­i­cal. They are kept at this level to al­low in­dus­tries to be able to con­tinue with their pol­lu­tion and not have to spend more on cleaner tech­nol­ogy,” said pro­fes­sor Babu Rao, re­tired chief sci­en­tist from the Hy­der­abad-based In­dian In­sti­tute of Chem­i­cal Tech­nol­ogy.

Ms An­u­mita Roy­chowd­hury, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the air pol­lu­tion and clean trans­porta­tion pro­gramme at the Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment, Delhi, said Te­lan­gana state needed an air qual­ity plan­ning sys­tem im­me­di­ately be­fore things get out of hand.

“In Delhi we have started se­cond gen­er­a­tion of pol­lu­tion man­age­ment so we have a down­ward trend. Data from Te­lan­gana state sounds wor­ry­ing which means they need to plug each source of pol­lu­tion with rapid im­ple­men­ta­tion,” Ms Roy­chowd­hury said.

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