Air quality down, noise up
PMC's Environmental Status Report for 2011 tabled in General Body meeting
The PMC’s Environmental Status Report (ESR) for 2011 states that the air quality in the city has deteriorated as a result of the growing levels of nitrogen oxides and repairable suspended particulate matter (RSPM).
The ESR blames the deterioration on urbanisation and industrialisation. Even the noise level was reported to have increased in the residential and silent zones in the city.
The 15th ESR of the civic body was presented before a specially called General Body meeting by Additional Municipal Commissioner Naresh Zurmure yesterday.
The 215-page ESR was officially released earlier by Mayor Vaishali Bankar in the civic house. “Earlier the levels of nitrogen oxides were low because the MPCB parameters were low — 60 micrograms per cubic metre — compared to the present 40 micrograms per cubic metre now,” Zurmure said. “The levels of nitrogen oxides were found to be higher in residential, business and industrial areas, especially in Navi Peth, Mandai vegetable market and Chandani Chowk on Paud Road.”
On the RSPM or PM10, he said it was 150 in Mandai and 140 in Chandani Chowk and Navi Peth in 2011. The level of PM2.5, or dust particles less than 2.5 micrograms, was 80 at the fire brigade office in Bhawani Peth, double the MPCB parameter level of 40.
At Vishrambaug Wada in Sadashiv Peth, the level had reached 72 and at Indradhanushya in Navi Peth it was 70. “PM2.5 level was also found high in the Hadapsar industrial belt,” Zurmure said. “The pollutants were suspended dust from trash burning, construction works and road dust.”
High noise levels
PMC Environment Officer Mangesh Dighe said noise pollution was higher in the morning and evening hours in residential and silent zones. Despite installing 717 no-honking boards, the noise levels were high even in the silent zones like Poona Hospital, where levels touched 90 dB in 2011. The acceptable level given by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is 55 dB.
The situation was similar at Sassoon hospital, NMV School, University of Pune campus and Naidu Hospital. “Traffic blockages and unnecessary use of horns are the two major factors for the growing level of noise at these spots,” Dighe said. “The noise level was 76.18 dB and 76.75 dB at Swargate and Ambedkar Junctions, respectively.”
Dighe said deaths due to air-borne diseases like pneumonia, encephalitis and tuberculosis had gone up by 1,000, 500 and 400 deaths, respectively, in 2011. The trends for air and noise pollution levels and its related diseases were similar in the last two years. “To curb air pollution caused by 23.07 lakh vehicles, the PMC is spending Rs 12 crore on installing CNG kits for 10,000 autorickshaws, Rs 42.50 crore on garbage management, Rs 10 lakh on promoting cycles, Rs 25 lakh on tree adoption schemes, besides promoting high-capacity mass transport,” Dighe said.
Published in Marathi and English in the past, the ESR has been published only in Marathi for two years now. Hrishikesh Talwalkar, an environmentalist and founder-head of the NGO Aranyawak, said the PMC should also publish the report in English to maintain information transparency.