Pollution issues stare city residents in face

JALANDHAR: Even though city residents might have heaved a sigh of relief after a decrease in pollution level was reported in the city during Diwali, the situation is actually grim as a majority of pollution sources, including vehicular traffic, water and construction-related problems, go unchecked in the city.

Pollution issues stare city residents in face

An air-quality checking device to check the level of pollution in commercial area inside the lush green Company Bagh in Jalandhar

Rachna Khaira

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 7

Even though city residents might have heaved a sigh of relief after a decrease in pollution level was reported in the city during Diwali, the situation is actually grim as a majority of pollution sources, including vehicular traffic, water and construction-related problems, go unchecked in the city.

The Municipal Corporation of Jalandhar (MCJ) does not have any mechanism to check the pollution level caused due to the scattering of open garbage on roads, air pollution caused through the construction of buildings and also due to the non-implementation of the solid waste management in the city.

Also, the four dust checking stations, installed under the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (NAAQM) programme around 10 years ago, have lost their significance due to the demographic changes that have occurred in the past few years.

Shockingly, the device installed to check air quality in commercial areas is installed inside the lush green Company Bagh inside the Municipal Corporation Complex. The device installed to check air quality in residential areas has been installed in the posh Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar where dust is almost negligible.

While the device used to check industrial pollution has been installed over the pollution control building situated in Focal Point, shockingly, the deviCe used to check air quality in sensitive areas has been installed inside ESI Hospital where the inflow of traffic as well as patients is almost negligible compared to the adjoining Civil Hospital.

When asked about the need to review a change of place for these devices, the Punjab Pollution Control Board’s senior environment engineer for the Jalandhar zone Sandeep Bahl said a periodic review does takes place to review their locations, but no need has been felt at present to change their sites.

“What we check is only the basic level of pollution in these areas and it will not make much difference if shifted to some other places in the city. These devises are capable enough to check the air quality up to 2 km,” said Behl.

When asked to explain the sensitivity factor identified by the department inside the almost abandoned ESI Hospital, Behl refused to comment on the issue and said that the locations were selected by a high level delegation of officials many years ago.

“Only they can tell on what parameters the sites were identified at that time,” said Behl.

Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued a non-bailable warrant against Jalandhar Cantonment Board Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Meenakshi Lohia a few months ago for not connecting the sullage coming out from kitchens and toilets of the residential houses to the main sewerage treatment plant run by the Army authorities.

Lohia claimed that the case was disposed of and around 60 per cent of the sullage had already been connected with the main STP. “Though we have connected majority of the private colonies in the cantonment to the STP, Army properties are yet to get connected with the STP,” said Lohia.

Also, a lack of coordinated effort was found amongst various stakeholders of pollution control mechanism in the city. Even though a majority of the departments, including agriculture, District Transport Authority and the MCJ, do not have an adequate mechanism to check pollution levels in their respective fields, they have never sought or were extended any help by the Pollution Control department.

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