Kolkata Heading The Delhi Way? Air Quality In City Centre On Record Low

On Tuesday evening, the PM 2.5 count at Kolkata's Park Street was 288 AQI (Air Quality Index). The corresponding count in Delhi's Chanakyapuri was 189, according the US consulate website report.

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Kolkata Heading The Delhi Way? Air Quality In City Centre On Record Low

Rising air pollution in Kolkata has been attributed to the increasing number of diesel cars.

New Delhi:  In a first, the air quality in the heart of Kolkata has dipped below parts of polluted New Delhi, raising concerns among environmentalists. A report by the US consulate in Kolkata revealed that the level of the lethal particulate matter 2.5 -- a key indication of air pollution -- at Park Street, the heart of the city, has surpassed Delhi's Chanakyapuri locality on Tuesday.

On Tuesday evening, the PM 2.5 count at Park Street was 288 AQI (Air Quality Index). The corresponding count in Chanakyapuri was 189, according to the consulate website report. The situation, however, improved this morning, with the PM 2.5 level dropping to 171 AQI. The safe limit for PM 2.5 is 60 as per national standards and 25 by international standards.

While in the national capital, stubble burning as well as construction and industrial activities causing emission are the major sources of pollution, in Kolkata, an increase in the number of diesel cars in the city is believed to be one of the main reasons for the depleting air quality.

One of the environmentalists of the city, SM Ghosh, said the state pollution control board is doing little to reduce the number of diesel cars. Further, the facilities for monitoring the air quality is limited, he said, since a chunk of the monitoring units are defunct.

The state's minister for Subrata Mukherjee pointed out that the situation was better than Delhi and steps were being taken to curb pollution. Environment minister Sovon Chatterjee, who echoed him, however told news agency Press Trust of India, "I am yet to go through the contents of the US consulate report."

State pollution control board chairman Kalyan Rudra said the report covers just one area and does not give a complete picture and hence there was no reason to panic.

In efforts to combat air pollution, the Delhi government announced several plans, including reintroduction of the odd-even scheme, a ban on most commercial trucks, halting construction activities and four-fold hike in car parking charges. Also, a comprehensive action plan for the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana, cleared by the Supreme Court, calls for fast-track construction of expressways and improved public transportation.

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