Tribune News Service
Amritsar, November 28
A virtual discussion on ‘Air Quality Management in Amritsar’ brought together concerned citizens from Amritsar as well as a panel of well-known experts having a detailed discussion on rising air pollution.
The group also explored the steps to be taken up by the authorities and the community to ensure healthy air in the city.
Organised by EcoSikh in collaboration with Clean Air Punjab — a citizen’s initiative, the panel included Sarath Guttikunda- Founder/Director Urban Emissions; Tanushree Ganguly, programme lead, Air Quality from Council on Energy Environment and Water (CEEW); Supreet Kaur, president EcoSikh and other prominent citizens from Amritsar.
Last year, the holy city received a special grant of Rs19 crore to improve air quality
Tanushree Ganguly of CEEW said Amritsar, despite being ranked among the 20 most polluted cities in the country by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has only one real-time monitoring station.
“Studies suggest that more than 50 per cent of the city’s pollution comes from sources outside its jurisdiction. Therefore, for reducing pollution in the city, the focus should be on augmenting monitoring infrastructure in the city, development and execution of a plan that addresses both local and regional sources, and finally conducting a comprehensive mapping of local polluting sources,” she said.
Amritsar is the second largest urban city in Punjab with immense religious and historical importance. Despite being a tourist hub with a footfall of seven million every month, not much attention is given to the city’s air quality management.
Indu Arora, vice-president, Voice of Amritsar, said she was herself a witness to the deteriorating situation of Amritsar be it reduction in greenbelts, chopping of even 200 to 300-year-old heritage trees for development.
“The administration has neither any vision nor plans for sustainable development to compensate for the loss of green cover. It is obvious that in such a scenario, the citizens will only breathe polluted air, which will impact their health,” she said.
Mentioning that the sacred city of Amritsar was very close to the hearts of Punjabi community Supreet Kaur, president EcoSikh said it was the responsibility of the state government, city administration as well as its people to ensure that Amritsar should not earn the dubious distinction of a city with very poor air quality.
Ecosikh has taken the initiative to form Amritsar Clean Air Action Group, a well-informed citizens group to safeguard and protect the health of people of Amritsar.
Dr Kiran Sandhu, Associate Professor, School of Urban and Regional Planning, GNDU, said: “City’s AQI reveals ‘unhealthy’ levels of air pollution indicating the need to frame and enforce regulatory measures to deal with principal pollutants.”
While the virtual session ended on a favourable note for improving Amritsar’s air quality, a group of individuals agreed to start a watchdog group. This group of engaged individuals will monitor Amritsar’s clean air action plan’s implementation for public health and environmental protection.
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