GOOD LIFE VS BAD AIR

Pune features among the top 3 Indian cities on ‘liveability quotient’. Projects on transport, water supply and waste management lined up in 2018 are expected to push it up further, but the poor air quality remains a big concern Breathing trouble in vehicle-busy city

The quality of the air in the city has gone from bad to worse over the past few years. With sea of vehicles plying on roads, Puneites are breathing in polluted air at each traffic signal.

To move ahead, it will be crucial to reduce the air pollution. Along with appropriate traffic control, reducing the number of vehicles on road by improving the public transport system and banning vehicles that produce toxic fumes can help battle the bad air. The other simple measure is planting trees, say experts.

The gradual rise in air pollutants over the years, especially high concentration of particulate matter being detected in the city’s air, has set the alarm bells ringing. Particulate matter is a hazardous air pollutant that can travel deep into the respiratory tract and enter the lungs.

In 2018, it will be crucial to reduce the air pollution, say experts. “The deterioration in air quality is a matter of great public health concern, as it puts even healthy individuals at risk of adverse health effects. Indian Medical Association (IMA) has declared the condition as Public Health Emergency,” says senior medical expert K K Aggarwal, national president, IMA.

Gaseous and particulate matter pollutants cause air pollution. Gaseous air pollutants include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, oxides of sulphur and nitrogen, and ozone. Particulate matter pollutants include all sources and composition of particles that are either 10 microns or less in mean aerodynamic diameter, called PM10 (particles less than 10 microns) or PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 microns) or PM1 or even ultrafine particles (particles less than 100 nanometres in diameter).

“Both these types of pollutants have harmful effects, but on a relative basis, particulate matter air pollution has been shown to be a bigger culprit. And there has been a rise in this pollutant in Pune city,” says senior chest physician Sundeep Salvi, the director of Chest Research Foundation (CRF).

Particulate matter is produced by combustion or heating. Mechanical friction and breakdown of liquid particles also produce it.

Not just the lungs. Pollutants in the city’s air have significant bearing on people’s mental health as well. Recent studies have suggested that air pollution, especially particulate matter (PM) less than 2.5 microns, is associated with the risk of triggering depression and worsening symptoms among those already down with the trait.

Source : TOI

image (1)

Advertisements

Citizens choke on fumes as air quality takes a beating Katraj, Alandi AQI ‘Very Poor’: SAFAR

Are you finding it difficult to breathe? Blame the poor air quality in the city, which hit alow on Thursday.

The quality of air has turned ‘orange’ on the pollution index — an indication of a serious health alert. Pollutant PM 2.5 (particulate matter) values were the highest on Thursday, as illustrated by data from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s (IITM) System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). On Thursday, the city’s air quality index (AQI) touched 200, which classified as ‘poor’.

Some doctors have observed a 100% increase in the number of patients complaining of respiratory tract infections every day.

Five out of the 10 SAFARmonitored locations in the city on Thursday were choking on poor-to-very poor air quality due to PM 2.5. ‘Very poor’ AQI means a significant increase in respiratory troubles, and on Thursday, PM 2.5 (one of the worst pollutants) was recorded three or four times higher than the prescribed standard.

Gufran Beig, programme director at SAFAR, said the average 24-hour PM 2.5 values on Thursday were the highest in the last week. “The colder temperature in winter causes the boundary layer of the atmosphere to thin, This, along with calm seasonal winds, causes the pollutants to get trapped near the earth’s surface, hindering their dispersal,” he said.

Data showed that Katraj and Alandi were in the ‘red’ on Thursday, an indication of ‘very poor’ air quality, which may trigger a serious health alert. A SAFAR advisory issued for the two areas said people may experience serious health effects.

Similar levels of pollution may persist on Friday, as per a SAFAR forecast.

PMC plans higher fines to stop garbage burning

Citizens And Civic Staff Can Face Action For Setting Fires

“The department of solid waste management of the PMC has drafted new bylaws. A higher fine is one way to resolve this problem,” Suresh Jagtap, head of the PMC’s solid waste management department, told TOI on Thursday.

“We have forwarded the proposal of increasing fines to the civic body. The fine applies on citizens as well as civic staff, who are caught burning garbage. The heavy fine will help in reducing the cases of rubbish burning,” Jagtap said.

The department of solid waste management, Jagtap said, is coordinating with local ward offices to study and implement the proposal of higher fines. Action will also be taken based on citizens’

complaints. According to official records, cases of open burning tend to increase during the winter.

TOI readers from across the city have been claiming for months that garbage is being set ablaze in their areas. Many have also reported serious health problems.

Reader Raj Sharma from Hadapsar asked why the PMC was ignoring the problem of garbage burning in the Hadapsar area.

“Morning walkers heading towards the Hadapsar gliderdrome are being forced to endure severe air pollution due to the open burning of garbage. Isn’t the civic body responsible for the people’s health?” he asked while submitting photos via the Citizen Reporter app.

“Despite multiple complaints registered at the ward office here, heaps of garbage are being set alight along the Kharadi bypass road. It’s a serious health risk,” said Amit Purwar, a resident of this busy area.

Readers also pointed at the involvement of fellow citizens in open burning.

“People staying in Bhunde Vasti, Bavdhan have been burning garbage in the open. This waste has high levels of plastic in it and as a result, there’s a lot of smoke during the evening hours,” Mahesh Fukey, a resident of Bavdhan wrote.

Locations near important institutions were not being spared either. “Garbage is being regularly set on fire in the MIDC area, near Sinhagad College at Kondhwa Khurd. Why are officials ignoring this illegal act?” asked reader Ravi Gour.

Others alleged that the civic body was ignoring their complaints.

“Next to Nine Hills at NIBM Road, garbage is being set on fire every three days. The smoke from the fires is entering our homes. We registered multiple complaints through the PMC app. But that hasn’t helped,” said Santosh Patil, a resident of NIBM Road. One reader said Pune could be the next Delhi as far as heavy air pollution was concerned.

“The toxic smog over Delhi has set off alarm bells here. Pune city could be next on the pollution list. For decades now, Salisbury Park, has been troubled by miscreants burning tyres near the canal. The smoke has been a major cause of health problems in the area. We have made numerous complaints but the problem persists,” reader Tara Pathak wrote recently.

The burning of waste is also worrying those living in the PCMC areas. In fact, officials from the PMC have in the past admitted that that this was a serious problem in the fringe areas, where proper waste disposal methods are yet to be set up. “Pune’s pollution levels may not be as bad as New Delhi’s but this city has a problem of crop burning too,” said Archana Hemmady,from Hinjewadi. A photo submitted by Hemmady showed husks burning at a farm near the city’s IT areas.

“In the background are high-rises that are part of the Hinjewadi IT hub’s skyline. What is the civic body doing for the health of the thousands of people visiting this busy area?” asked Archana Hemmady.

Source : TOI

image

Ganeshkind Road’s harrowing traffic rules need serious rethink

About 20 years ago, what was then known as the Ganeshkhind Road, was lined with beautiful banyan trees on either sides leading to a beautiful fountain at the University Circle. It was possible to take a right turn there to enter the university gate, or a U-turn to enter the gate of Vaikunth Mehta National Institute.

However, when Pune hosted the Asiad Games, all the banyan trees were chopped to widen the road. The beautiful fountain was also removed. Then, to ease congestion, a flyover was built at a huge cost. The traffic police also stopped the signal for right turn between 9am to 11am in the morning — the peak office rush hours.

Let us look at the alternatives that office goers now have: #They take a left turn on the Pashan-Sus road and stop at the signal. The traffic police have allowed the two-wheelers to make a left turn, but have disallowed the four-wheelers. How is this justified? Can the police show any rule which permits this kind of partisan act?

#Four-wheelers are, therefore, forced to drive ahead on the Aundh Road and then take a right turn in front of the Raj Bhavan and the Chatushrungi Police station. Here the traffic flows at a high speed with vehicles coming from the over-bridge and merging with the traffic going towards the very busy area of Aundh.

#Another spot waiting for accidents to occur is at the turn. There is no signal here. Alone cop, who used to monitor traffic, has been removed. At the same time, there are always 4-5 cops at the University chowk.

As a result it is left to the skills of the driver to take a right turn, while negotiating heavy traffic. Also there are barricades placed on the side , which means further narrowing of the space to turn. As cars jostle for space to turn, the possibility of one bumping into another greatly increases. I face a harrowing time every morning due to this traffic “bandobast”. Earlier, the traffic would be smooth and fast. Vehicles would go in a single direction. Traffic was managed in a way that vehicles were allowed to take right turns.

Now, while coming from Senapati Bapat road, when I turn on to Ganeshkhind, there is a traffic snarl waiting for me at the under-bridge. Traffic comes to a stand still for about 3-4minutes here. The vehicles slowly inch forwards, only to be stopped at the University Circle again for 5-7 minutes. Since right turn is not allowed any more, I have to drive on the Aundh Road.

Once, I had a private bus come hurtling down the bridge on my right. Had I moved to the right, the bus would have crashed into my car. There is also a public bus stop on the left, and my car had got sandwiched between the public bus, which had stopped on the left, and the tourist bus on the right.

I tried talking to traffic police, but they seem to be indifferent to citizens’ woes.

Understandably, the University circle has traffic passing from four main roads; but not allowing the right turn is not the solution. Where is the logic in turning off the right turn in the morning hours?

Source : TOI

image

PMC’s ₹27crore hawker zones lie unoccupied

Four Out Of Five Market Spaces Are Lying Idle

Five years ago, as part of a plan to rehabilitate hawkers, the Pune Municipal Corporation built five otta (platform) markets at a cost of Rs 27 crore using central government funds. Today, one of these open markets has been converted by the PMC into a ‘smart city office’ and the remaining four, are lying idle.

Hawkers’ groups allege that the PMC has bungled the entire rehabilitation process because of poor implementation of the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014. Hawkers also claim that political parties have added to the confusion by demanding spaces for party workers.

The five market zones were set up at Baner, Kharadi, Wadgaonsheri, Parvati and Wadgaon Budruk, along Sinhagad Road. But so far, the PMC has not taken any steps to rehabilitate 1,150 hawkers. Balasaheb More, the general secretary of the Hawkers’ Association, says a total of three surveys were carried out to determine genuine recipients of the rehabilitation plan.

“The central government allotted Rs 50 crore in funds for the PMC to construct hawker markets. Five markets were built at a cost of Rs 27 crore and the remaining funds still remain unutilized. Hawkers are being deprived of space in these markets despite three surveys — since 2014 — that were carried out to verify credentials of applicants. The surveys had no effect because of a dispute between the PMC’s administration and political parties. The PMC must provide spaces for genuine hawkers instead of allotting space to workers and affiliates of political parties. If the PMC commissioner takes a bold decision on the matter, the problem of allotting space in these markets will be resolved,” More says. Salma Shaikh, president of the National Association of Street Vendors in Maharashtra, says corporators lack the willpower to implement the Vendors Act.

“The civic administration does not want to legalise the business of hawkers because of vested interests. The Vendors Act says that a town Vending Committee — comprising representatives from the municipal corporation, hawkers’ groups and NGOs — must be set up to earmark special hawking zones. The Act also advised the allotment of space to hawkers within four months. But it has been threeand-a-half years and nothing has happened. Our fight for justice will continue until our business is legalized,” Shaikh says.

The president of the Janiv hawkers union, Sanjay Sankhe, says the PMC is “not interested” in expediting the matter of hawker rehabilitation in the city.

“This is evident from the the fact that the civic body has not held a town Vending Committee meeting since December 2 of last year. We are okay with relocating hawkers if their current areas of operations are experiencing congestion. But the PMC must ensure that no new hawkers are accommodated. Also, the civic body has been harassing hawkers by confiscating goods and refusing to return the items. They are doing this at the behest of political parties.”

Source : TOI

image

Chill & moisture create ideal condition for foggy mornings

The early winter chill, coupled with high levels of moisture in the air, have created conditions ideal for foggy mornings in the city. Over the past week, the minimum temperatures have regularly dipped below the normal, and the India Meteorological Department has forecast early-morning fog-like cover over the next few days.

On Sunday, the minimum temperature in the city was recorded 3.2o Celsius below normal for the day. According to IMD officials, though they do not record “fog as per meteorological terms,” but fog-like conditions will prevail in some parts of the city in the early morning hours.

As per the IMD data, the city has been witnessing unusually low temperature since November 6. The minimum temperature has remained below normal since last Tuesday. In fact, the gap between the normal minimum temperature and the actual temperature has only increased as the week progressed. On Tuesday, the city’s minimum temperature was 14.8o Celsius, which was 0.5o Celsius less than normal. By Sunday, the minimum temperature fell to 11.5o Celcius, about 3.2oCelcius less than normal.

“Right now, the northerly winds are having an impact on the city’ weather conditions. As a result, the temperatures have been low. After a couple of days, the easterly winds are likely to gain strength, and then they will have an impact on the temperature. The minimum temperature may even rise then,” said P C S Rao, the meteorological department’s senior scientist for weather forecasting.

As per IMD’s definition, “Fog is a phenomenon of small droplets suspended in air, and when the horizontal visibility is one kilometre or less.” Rao said that though the IMD has not recorded such conditions in the city yet, they are currently present in other parts of the country, especially in the northern states such as Punjab and Haryana.

Source : TOI

image (1)

Salim Ali bird count across country tomorrow, open invitation to all

The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) has announced the SalimAli bird count for this year. The event will be held on November 12.

Initiated as an annual count, the event is held across the country to commemorate the birth anniversary of the ‘Bird Man of India’, late SalimAli (1896-1987). Every year, the count is organised on the first Sunday post his birth anniversary, said a statement issued by the BNHS.

The count is open to all interested candidates. Participants can observe and record birds in any chosen areas for at least 15 minutes and preferably over an hour. A checklist of birds is available on IBCN website (www.ibcn.in).

Participants are requested to download the checklist and record their sighting in it. The complete checklist of all species (ideally with counts of individuals) should be submitted through email to Nandkishor Dudhe, a research assistant at BNHS (n.dudhe@bnhs.org).

One can visit multiple locations, but it is imperative to maintain a separate bird list (and count) for each location.

SalimAli Bird Count is a citizen science initiative conducted in association with multiple organizations. The count presents a good opportunity for bird watchers to visit Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) around them and undertake a diligent count for a longer duration (over an hour).

It can become a means for monitoring the status of birds and their habitats over the years if one visits the same location every year. Counts will be more productive during early hours of the day, with birds generally becoming quiet and inactive during midday. Bird Participants can continue monitoring birds post the designated day and become a part of the common bird monitoring programme of BNHS.

Last year, a total of 325 species were recorded from 12 states with Maharashtra topping the number with regards to the checklists that were submitted.

Out of the 325 species spotted, 18 species were from the threatened category of IUCN Red List including Lesser adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus), Greyheaded fish eagle (Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus), Spotbilled Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)and others.

In the last count, ducks (Anatidae family) were the most recorded birds followed by Rose-ringed parakeet (Psittacula krameri), Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) and Common myna (Acridotheres tristis).

Source : TOI

image