Pushing industries to the city fringes doesn’t help, say activists
If you think that posh residential neighbourhoods such as Boat Club and Poes Garden have lesser pollution levels due to their tree cover, you are mistaken. These areas have recorded high levels of particulate matter that are lesser than 2.5 microns.
Boat Club recorded 104.30 micrograms/cubic metre and Poes Garden 101 micrograms/cubic metre during a 24-hour period last month. According to Central Pollution Control Board standards, anything above 90 micrograms/cubic metre is classified as unhealthy for sensitive groups. The permissible level for 24-hours is 60 microgram/cubic metre.
Members of civil society, residents of north Chennai and doctors, who addressed the media on Wednesday called for putting a stop to air pollution from industries, especially from coal-fired thermal power plants in the north of the city. They also demanded adherence to national standards and no further expansion of high polluting industries in the area.
North Chennai worst-hit
“Residents in the Manali-Tiruvottiyur belt have been living under very unhealthy conditions. At Nalla Thanneer Odai Kuppam, the pollution level was 220 micrograms/cubic metre and at Manali 156 microgram/cubic metre. Pollution from the northern fringes is reaching the city as well,” said Nithyanand Jayaram, civil society activist. The pollution levels were recorded by The Coastal Resource Centre in the presence of residents. Pulmonologist Hisamuddin Papa said during a recent visit to north Chennai, the impact of pollution was very evident. Growth in children is stunted and people are suffering from respiratory
and skin problems. “We could not stand there for more than 10 minutes… the pollution was so much. Chennai residents have to be equally worried. Pushing away industries to the margins has not helped since the wind currents recirculates the particles back to the city,” he said.
Rakhal Gaitonde, public health specialist, said that the high levels of PM 2.5 had both long and short-term impacts, especially on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. North Chennai faces a public health emergency and the government must step in immediately and put in place the health infrastructure to mitigate the effects.
The article appeared in The Hindu on May 11, 2017. It can be accessed here.