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Posted at: May 20, 2016, 1:01 AM; last updated: May 20, 2016, 1:01 AM (IST)

NGOs urge administration to restore green cover

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 19

City residents and NGOs have urged the district administration to start a massive campaign to plant native saplings and trees to restore Amritsar’s green cover and identify the sources of pollution in the city after a WHO report placed Amritsar at 21st rank in the list of most polluted cities in the world.

A meeting of the executive body of the Amritsar Vikas Manch was held under the leadership of its president Kulwant Singh Ankhi, a retired government school principal.

The body expressed concern after discussing the World Health Organisation (WHO) report regarding the poor quality of air in Amritsar. As per its report, the permissible and safe limit of particulate matter in air less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM 2.5) has annual mean of 10 µg/m3.

However, the quantity of PM 2.5 annual mean in Amritsar’s air is 108 µg/m3, which is ten times more than the permissible limit. These fine particles of dust, smoke and other harmful chemicals are very dangerous for respiratory organs of humans and other living beings. They are inhaled easily along with the air and settle deep in the tender tissues of lungs which may cause asthma, tuberculosis and even lung cancer. Besides respiratory diseases, these fine particles may also cause heart diseases.

Prof Mohan Singh and Lakhbir Singh Ghuman said the reason behind the production of these harmful fine particles was the combustion of fossil fuels in vehicles, burning of garbage, wheat stubble and paddy residue in fields.

Another reason was kutcha brims of roads from where dust particles get mixed with the air. A big cause of air pollution in the holy city was the main grain market in which heavy clouds of dust were produced while winnowing the grains of wheat, rice, etc, they said.

They reasoned that the amount of poisonous gases like carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide, etc, had also increased in the air due to the indiscriminate axing of century old and big trees like Peepal, Bohar, Sheesham, Neem and Mulberry trees on the pretext of widening of roads and due to the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) and other development projects.

Sewak Singh, Surinderjit Singh Bittu and Prof Rajwinderjit Singh said it was apparent that the quality of air had worsened beyond limits. The political and administrative authorities should wake up from slumber and they should recognise and perform their duties to improve the quality of air.

Crucial measures should be taken by the city’s political and administrative authorities. These could be setting up of CNG stations in sufficient numbers in city areas and making it mandatory for autos to shift from diesel to CNG.

Burning of garbage in city, and wheat stubble and paddy residue in adjoining villages must be banned with hard hands of law if the farmers did not respect the rule of the land.

They suggested that the grain market of Bhagtanwala be shifted to peripheral villages after dividing into small markers at Vallah, Verka, Bohru, Khasa, Mannawala, Bal Khurd, Bal Kalan, Wadala Bhittewad, Rajasansi, etc.


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