13 South Indian cities have toxic air; at least 26 more are unsafe: Study

Rose Tiger James
Mar 6, 2018 · 2 min read

The Centre’s list includes three cities from Telangana, five from Andhra Pradesh, one from Tamil Nadu and four from Karnataka

As the Centre plans to clean the air in 13 south Indian cities, 26 more cities spread across four south Indian states reported annual particulate pollution levels higher than the national safe standards, according to an analysis of government data.

The union environment ministry is planning to bring down air pollution in around 100 cities nationwide–exceeding national air pollution standards–by 50% in the next five years through the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

NCAP includes expansion of monitoring network, conducting air pollution health impact studies, setting up of air information systems, certification of monitoring institutes, air quality forecasting systems, awareness and capacity building drives.

The Centre’s list includes three cities from Telangana, five from Andhra Pradesh, one from Tamil Nadu and four from Karnataka. In comparison, 10 cities in Telangana, 15 in Andhra Pradesh, four in Tamil Nadu and 10 in Karnataka reported annual levels of PM 10–tiny airborne particles seven times finer than human hair–exceeding national standards (60 micrograms per cubic metre, or µg/m³) in 2015 and 2016, according to this January 2018 analysis by Greenpeace-India, an advocacy, based on data obtained from state pollution control boards using right to information applications.

Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh exceeded the annual PM 10 standard levels by 68%. Bidar and Tumkur in Karnataka exceeded the levels by 88% and 144%, respectively.

Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi and Telangana’s Kothur exceeded the annual PM 10 standard levels by 200% and 78%.

Source: Data from state pollution control boards, compiled by Greenpeace India in this analysis; *Maximum of annual average PM 10 levels in 2015 and 2016

All these cities need city-specific action plans to fight air pollution.

For now, Delhi’s Graded Response Action is the only available programme in India to combat pollution. It entails a number of actions to be taken as soon as the air quality plunges, such as stopping garbage burning, not allowing trucks to enter the city, shutting down power plants, and closing brick kilns and stone crushers, IndiaSpend reported on December 22, 2017.

How bad is south India’s air pollution problem: The tale of two metros

In a bid to shift the limelight from over the National Capital Region (NCR) to southern parts of the country–which are also suffering from bad air quality–independent researchers used two separate methods for monitoring air quality in Chennai and Bengaluru.

While the researchers deployed roof-top air quality monitoring stations in five locations across Chennai, Bengaluru was monitored for pollution levels on seven arterial roads during peak traffic hours……….read more

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