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Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: Air pollution is real in Odisha, notwithstanding the claims of State government. The State's three top cities Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Rourkela stand more polluted than cities like Raipur (Chhattisgarh capital), Indore (MP) and Bangalore (Karnataka).

Even, the air of India's commercial capital Mumbai looks better than the silver city and Odisha's commercial city Cuttack in 2018.

In almost serving a warning to the State, the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) Annual report - 2018 has put the glare on the evolving trend of high air pollution in major cities in Odisha.

However, what the CPCB has revealed seems to be a tip of the iceberg. Because, the air pollution data of State's top cities released by CPCB didn't disclose the concentration of PM2.5 in Odisha air.

PM2.5 pollutants are described as fine pollutant particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs. High PM2.5 concentration is very harmful for human health. And private agencies like Skymet have measured the PM2.5 in Odisha cities as 'hazardous'.

As per the CPCB 2018 report, when Cuttack and Rourkela figured among the top polluted cities in Odisha along with Angul and industrial town Talcher and Kalinganagar, the annual concentration of air pollutants in the smart city Bhubaneswar looks no better.

While the annual PM10 level in Cuttack air is measured at 114 micrograms/m3, the NO2 is measured at 34 micrograms/m3 and SO2 at 4 micrograms/m3, the PM10 pollutant in air of smart city Bhubaneswar is gauged at 99 micrograms/m3, SO2 at 2 micrograms/m3 and NO2 at 17 micrograms/m3.

It needs mentioning here that as per the National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) standards, the annual concentration of PM10 should not exceed 60 micrograms/m3. But the level of PM10 in Odisha is far higher than the NAAQ norms.

Why higher PM10 is considered harmful? The size of these pollutants is less than 10 microns. Such smaller size has potential to penetrate into lungs, therefore more dangerous.

The levels of PM10, NO2 and SO2 in steel city Rourkela are evaluated higher at 108, 14 and 8 micrograms/m3, respectively.

Sample how the air in bigger cities is cleaner. Take the case of Mumbai, the commercial capital of India. Here when the pollutants like NO2 and SO2 in Mumbai air are measured at 21 and 2 micrograms/m3, respectively, the PM10  level is measured at 166 micrograms/m3.

The comparison shows Mumbai has only higher PM10 concentration than Cuttack.

However, the air of garden city Bangalore looks much cleaner. Here the PM10 level is measured at 90 micrograms/m3, NO2 at 30 micrograms/m3 and SO2 at 2 micrograms/m3. Similar is the air of Raipur, Indore and Chandigarh. The air there is much cleaner than Odisha's three topmost cities.

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