People in Patna are forced to inhale air containing Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) much above the permissible limit, an environment body has said, urging the Bihar government to take immediate action to check the pollution.
A report titled “Toward Healthy Air for Patna”, released by the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), also pointed out that as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Patna was the second-most polluted city in India with high levels of concentrated particulate matter, six times more than what is considered safe.
“The exponential rise in air pollution in Patna requires an immediate robust plan to tackle it, and to spread massive awareness on high health risk posed by air pollution. The Bihar government must show strong political will to take immediate action to curb pollution now,” CEED CEO Rampati Kumar told media persons here.
“The wide gap in demand and supply of electricity is one of the major source of Patna’s bad air quality — either by industrial emission or usage of diesel for power back-up in the non-domestic sector,” the report said.
Another factor contributing to bad air quality was the overwhelming number of vehicles in the city.
Besides, the non-domestic sector of Patna was burning about 81 lakh litres of diesel and releasing 35,000 kg of toxic particulate matter only to satisfy one hour of electricity demand, CEED programme manager Ankita Jyoti said.
“Particulate matter will increase by 2031, if control measures are not implemented immediately. Millions of people will be at risk of serious health issues due to inhalation of poor air quality in Patna,” she said.
She said Patna can reverse the air pollution situation by setting up solar power panels on rooftops.
CEED suggested a 15-point programme to control air pollution, which includes implementation of clean energy, usage of clean fuel for cooking, improved transport system, and stringent emission targets for industries.
Last month, the state government banned 15-year-old diesel vehicles from Patna’s roads in a bid to control air pollution.
The decision followed an advisory by the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) that said air quality in Patna was “very poor” on 20 days and “severe” on nine days of November 2015.
‘Severe’ means particulate matter 2.5 (PM-2.5) was over the 400-mark, which could affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases.
‘Very poor’ means PM-2.5 was between 301 and 400 and could cause respiratory illness after prolonged exposure.
A WHO survey in May 2014 put Patna behind Delhi in terms of severity of air pollution based on particulate matter.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) listed Patna as a ‘non-attainment city’ with PM-10 and PM-2.5 levels persistently exceeding national standards.