Six Odisha cities under NGT scanner for alarming levels of air pollution

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: Categorising six cities of Odisha as non-attaining cities with respect to air pollution, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the State Government to prepare an action plan for these cities within 2 months.

A letter in this regard was issued by NGT to the Additional Chief Secretary of Odisha’s Forest and Environment Department on October 8, 2018.

The NGT has identified 102 cities in the country as non-attaining cities as per the National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

Odisha has six such cities – Cuttack, Balasore, Angul, Talcher, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar.

The air-pollution in Talcher city has been identified as very high with the district administration sprinkling water to reduce the effects of dust and smog in the city.

Similar is the situation in Angul with dust particles at very high levels. The condition in Sundergarh at NH-143 is rather worse with the plying of heavy motor vehicles.

With air pollution in these 6 Odisha cities remaining at elevated levels, the NGT has ordered the State Government to prepare an action plan within two months.

Meanwhile, the local residents in these cities have expressed their dissatisfaction over the government’s pollution control efforts.

“The air in Angul is completely polluted owing to the mining activities and industries. The pollution also gets severe due to plying of heavy motor vehicles carrying minerals to various places in the country,” a resident of Angul, Manas Pal said.

Similarly, another resident of Angul, Binod Kumar Samal said “All sorts of trucks carrying coal and other minerals reach here raising the levels of dust in the city. This makes breathing difficult in the area.”

On the other hand, experts have indentified serious health-related effects of pollution on the local residents.

“The particulate matter PM10 or fine dust in the air has been exceeding norms for the last five years now. This generally affects the lungs and may be the reason for pulmonary diseases among the residents,” Dilip Kumar Behera, Senior Environmental Scientist at the State Pollution Control Board said.

“The committee will sit together and prepare the action plan for the 6 cities in accordance with the stipulated guidelines. We will start taking steps after approval of the action plan,” said K Murugesan, Director, Forest and Environment Department.

The NGT in its order has stated that the action plan will be prepared by a 6-member committee comprising of Directors of Environment, Transport, Industries, Urban Development, Agriculture departments and Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board.

The committee will be called Air Quality Monitoring Committee (AQMC) and will be supervised by the Principal Secretary of the Environment department. On top of these officials, the Odisha Chief Secretary will be responsible for the functioning of the committee, sources informed.