Gone are the days when the trees looked green. It’s like looking through a dirty window. Everything’s grey! The winter months in Patna have a perpetual melancholic visual. The air quality of Patna during the winter months was critical, with peaks of PM2.5 reaching hazardous levels for days in a row during late December and early January. But the onset of summer is believed to bring with it clearer skies and certainly, cleaner air. However, Patna is still far from a safe, pollution-free summer, according to the national standards.
The city breached the 24-hour average particulate matter limits for 88% of the total days in April 2017. Comparatively, the average pollution level of April last year, was lesser than the concentration noted this year. A hike of 26% was noted in the concentration of particulate matter in the year 2017, compared to last year’s data. The lowest pollution level in April 2017 was found on 22nd April (57.5 µg/m³), although it still surpassed the WHO limits. The highest pollution level was on 11th April (325 µg/m³), which is 5 times higher than the national standard.
The fluctuating temperatures and variable humidity or other factors may have kept the pollution levels higher in April, but this is only a lame excuse to quietly trash the fact that Patnaites are still inhaling polluted air. Further, it must also be understood that the ambient air quality is no longer just a seasonal phenomenon accentuated by weather conditions. The government should respond promptly to this serious environmental problem as the city is choking everyday, and bringing along a host of negative consequences.
Demarcation of clear responsibility in government departments to regulate air pollution sources is one of the important measures that should be taken. In addition, regular monitoring of air pollution and wider dissemination should also be taken into major consideration. Both monitoring and information dissemination assists in developing actions, and assigning resources to solve them. It also opens the opportunities for the public to discuss their environmental concerns.
Most importantly, we need the change and commitment from the government and the masses to proactively take charge of issues, rather than expect others to tackle the issues for everyone’s benefit.
Ankita Jyoti is a Clean Air Campaigner with CEED.