Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar: With Delhi turning a gas chamber since yesterday, is the air in Odisha's Capital City, the town of temples, any better?

Though the situation doesn't look that worse when seen through the prism of Air Quality Index (AQI), a Delhi is in the making in the temple city is beyond any reasonable doubt. Not convinced? Sample the following.

As per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, the PM2.5 concentration in Delhi air at ITO was 307 micrograms/m3 at 10 am on Saturday (November 2).

In contrast, the level of PM2.5 in Bhubaneswar air at Jayadev Vihar stood at 331 micrograms/m3 at 10:45 hours and later dipped to 324 micrograms/m3 at 11 am on Saturday (Nov 2), reveals the Skymet data.

The comparative data analysis shows how the air in Capital city of Odisha is hazardous than Delhi, the capital of the country.

As per IMD's Aerosol Optical Depth map, the Capital city was assigned a value of around 0.75 - 0.85 vis-a-vis 1.0 for Delhi.

The above analysis very subtly hints where the Capital city of Odisha lies in air pollution.

The PM2.5 value of 331-324 micrograms/m3 in city air is considered hazardous. Inhaling such toxic air will make even a healthy person prone to respiratory and heart ailments.

What is PM2.5? These are pollutant particles that have diameters less than 2.5 micrometer, which is smaller than width of human air. These fine particles are by-products of vehicular emissions, especially cars, heavy commercial vehicles and Autorickshaws. Fine dust particles also make up the PM2.5.

Vehicular emission and fine dust suspension in air is highest in the capital city in stretches like Patia square - Jayadev Vihar square, Baramunda and Laxmisagar etc.

The tragedy is the Odisha government has woken up late, and signed an MoU with Centre for Science & Environment this June only to bring up an action plan to curb city air pollution. The State Pollution Control Board is still busy in identifying the pollution sources to quantify and strategise accordingly.

The ranking of top ten locations in Odisha, where the air pollution is quite unhealthy, has been listed by a well known agency Air Visual. A glance at the list shows how the air in coastal areas in the State have turned 'unhealthy'.

The top-10 locations are: With an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 189, Bhubaneswar, Jajpur, Kendrapada topped the 'polluted' ten on Saturday. Cuttack with 186 followed them.

In contrast, the CPCB data for today shows the AQI in Talcher (an industrial zone) is good. This highlights how lax is the pollution control measures in the coastal areas.