Patna: Residents in Patna faced difficulties in breathing and burning eyes as air quality remained in the severe category for the third consecutive day on Wednesday, November 27. The air quality index (AQI) touched 430 at 12 PM on Wednesday, the highest in recent months, according to the Bihar State Pollution Control Board’s website. The AQI has been rising for the past two days with 404 recorded on Monday and 419 on Tuesday.
The severe levels of the air quality is set to affect most thousands of people including workers, rickshaw-pullers, autorickshaw drivers and the economically weaker section who spend most of their time on the road to earn their livelihood.
"I am feeling tired and weak due to difficulty in breathing. The increasing air pollution is affecting our health," said a rickshaw puller Hari Paswan, who runs his rickshaw in crowded and congested areas. Paswan's concern was shared by a worker at a construction site in the heart of Patna."Air is very bad, everywhere it is full of dust, diesel smell and our eyes burn due to it,” construction worker, Karu Yadav told NewsClick.
The BSPCB’s chairman A K Ghosh said, “There are several factors behind the deteriorating air quality here. Main contributors of air pollution are vehicles, bio mass burning, dust particles, low temperature, high level of moisture and low wind velocity. Besides, construction, brick kilns, diesel generator sets and industries.”
He, however, downplayed the reports of air quality remaining in the severe category for the last three days and very poor category last week, saying, “The monitoring of air quality is being done by one station here at a place crowded with vehicles and heavy dust. But the real fact is that the situation is not so bad as it appears.”
He also said that four new ambient air quality monitoring stations would be functional in Patna from next month which will help in finding out the exact AQI. “Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is serious to keep a check on the deteriorating air quality or air pollution and has issued series of directives in recent days,” he told NewsClick.
It should be noted that even though the state government has chalked out a clean air action plan to deal with deteriorating air quality in Patna and other towns in the state, but nothing has happened so far.
Green activist Ranjeev said that the air quality in Patna is almost as worse as Delhi or worse than other metro cities but this has failed to become a national issue. He said, “Usually deterioration in air quality would be recorded in December, but, this year it has been showing poor air quality since early November itself. This is alarming.”
Earlier on November 2 and 5, the AQI of Patna was recorded as 428 and 423, respectively, which were classified as severe as per the WHO.
According to experts, AQI level of severe category can prove very harmful as inhalation of toxic air containing pollutants like PM 2.5, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide are dangerous for healthy people. But it will affect people suffering from lung, heart and other diseases even more.
Two months ago, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) India, in partnership with the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED) shared the findings from Air Quality Life Index (AQLI). According to the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago's AQLI, residents of Patna could live about 7.7 years longer if the World Health Organisation's (WHO) PM 2.5 guidelines are met.
Back in 1998, the gain in life expectancy by meeting the same air quality standards was four years which has almost doubled now.
Earlier, CEED in its report said the data available with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for Patna shows that 48% of the total days had either "moderate" or "satisfactory" air quality, while the remaining 52 per cent saw "poor" or "severe" quality of air.
As per the findings, based on data from the real-time air quality monitoring station in Patna, the city in the month of December witnessed the worst air when 51% days had air quality in "severe" category. Out of the cities where Air Quality Index (AQI) bulletin is issued by the CPCB, Patna in December 2018 remained the most polluted city of India.