DISASTER IN THE AIR – Katraj gasps for breath as construction rises

IITM report has shown presence of soil particles due to burning garbage and building developments
Although not as bad as Delhi’s smog, a report from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) run un der the Ministry of Earth Sciences, has noted down the deteriorating quality of air at Katraj. The report showed the quality of air to be very poor on Sunday, and that these circumstances are expected to prolong till Monday. They have raised concern over the suspended soil in the air -particulate matter (PM) -which measures at 2.5 at the moment.Dr Gufran Beig, project director for system of air quality and weather forecasting and research (SAFAR), said, “Despite the clean air in the city, construction activities and burning in Katraj have had an adverse effect.“

The city’s periphery has developed at a quickened pace. Although areas like Baner and Mohammadwadi are seeing a lot of new construction, the absence of open garbage burning has kept the pollution in check, unlike the situation at Katraj. Combined with construction activities, the air quality in the latter has been severely affected. Furthermore, new buildings are being constructed on KatrajKondhwa Road, Ambegaon and Narhe. The stones mines in the vicinity add to the dust.

The PM 2.5, the worrying presence of which has been found at Katraj, is emitted from cars, trucks, buses and off-road vehicles, including construction equipment. In addition, burning of fuels and garbage result in incomplete combustion, giving rise to these particles. They have the potential to lodge deep inside the lungs causing respiratory illnesses.Some studies have linked the daily exposure to these particles to increased respiratory and cardiovascular hospital admissions. In the long term, such exposure may also lead to lung cancer.

Civic body officials have put downthe rise in construction to increase in demand, have stalled the possibilities of garbage being burned within city limits and have expressed the need to co-relate the findings of the reports.

Prashant Waghmare, city engineer at the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) said that Katraj is an upcoming area, and so, the construction activities have increased. “As the demand rises, the supply increases,“ he said.

As far as the burning garbage is concerned, Suresh Jagtap, head of PMC’s solid waste management, said that it does not happen within civic body limits but in areas outside that do not have a proper disposal system. “The villages that have developed in the periphery like Narhe and Ambegaon, which do not have a proper disposal system, might be the ones burning garbage. However, there are no incidences recorded within our limits,“ he said.

Mangesh Dighe, the head of civic body’s environment department, however feels that they need to analyse the area for pollution.

“We need to co-relate the incidences with the time for which the air quality has been poor before arriving at a conclusion. There is also a possibility that there might have been burning, maybe there was waste from firecrackers neart the equipment. It could have added to the pollution,“ he said.

Source : Mirror