Srinagar: The Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) installed recently at five different locations in Srinagar by State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has revealed that the pollution level in city has reached a “highly alarming level”.
As against the permissible level of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, the data collected by the board from these devices reveals that the pollution level has crossed 100 micrograms at all the four locations – Dalgate, Hyderpora, Rajbagh and Jehangir Chowk-Batamaloo stretch. At Soura, where the device was installed few days ago, the data is yet to be collected for analyses.
“The pollution level is checked either every 24 hours or every year. The level where air quality is termed toxic is 60 micrograms during a 24-hour monitoring. But in our readings, we found that the level has crossed 100 micrograms at our four fully functional (monitoring) locations,” legal advisor at SPCB, M M Shah, told Kashmir Reader.
When analyzed for one year, the permissible level before terming the air toxic is 40 micrograms. “But given the level these devices have shown after 24 hours monitoring, the figures that will collect after one year will be much higher and alarming,” Shah said.
The devices monitor the ambient air for 8 parameters: Respiratory Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) PM10, PM 2.5, SO2, NOx, NH3, CO, O3 and benzene. Installed on July 1 this year, following the rising demands of checking air particulate matter, the devices replaced after equipment used by SPCB was ravaged by floods in 2014.
In April 2017, High Court of Jammu & Kashmir had sought the government’s response on the measures suggested by the Pollution Control Board to tackle air pollution in city. After informing the court that the pollution levels were rising, mostly due to vehicular effluents, the PCB had suggested a number of measures to deal with the problem, including the installation of Air Quality Monitoring Stations.
Shah whose wing acts as a monitoring and advisory body to check pollution in Kashmir, said that they have submitted a report to the HC for its response.
“We have recently submitted our readings to the HC where it was held that the major source that added to the deterioration of air quality is vehicular pollution. The pollutants released by these vehicles are more worrying than pollutants from industrial units because the pollutants produced at the former have less chances of absorbing with atmosphere whereas, the later finds a good space when emissions are released several meters above the ground,” he said.
To control pollution, the diesel vehicles older than 25 years have already been phased out following a HC order and the ones older than 10 years have to get a six monthly fitness certificate to ply on the roads.
“It (rising pollution) is because of lack of traffic management policy in Kashmir. We have roads potholed at every place. Traffic jams every now and then. No alternative roads in case of renovation or development of available roads. Absence of training to officials responsible for monitoring vehicles for any pollution,” Shah said.