Apart from paddy stubble burning, need to reduce vehicular pollution: Experts

Patients suffering from respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis have a tough time as winter sets in. What adds to their woes is the air pollution which increases because of paddy stubble burning. Even Punjab Pradesh Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has become serious about this, and recently PPCB chairman Ravinder Singh held a meeting with PAU scientists who were urged to make farmers aware of the rising air pollution level.

Significantly, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has also blamed Punjab for increased air pollution in Delhi due to stubble burning after harvesting the crops.

Dr Jagdeep Whig, senior consultant, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, SPS Apollo Hospitals, said: "From November onwards, the number of patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have increased a lot. Worldwide cigarette smoking is the common cause for COPD, but in Ludhiana, air pollution due to various reasons is largely responsible for this disorder. Burning of agriculture waste, dry leaves, garbage, carbon emissions by vehicles, fumes emerging after cracker-burning are collective reasons for this. In the evening, the sky is not blue, but engulfed by deep smoke."

He added, "COPD is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, causing more than 3 million deaths every year. In India, the count is about 13 million, with 62 per cent men and the remaining women."

Dr Gurpreet Singh, consultant, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, SPS Apollo Hospitals, said: "The same story is being repeated year after year as patients come to our clinics in worse conditions. Not only adults, even children are also the target. Over the years due to continuous exposure to poisonous fumes, even normal patients also become victims of COPD. The masses in general need to be aware. Apart from the stubble burning, we need to reduce the vehicular pollution as well."

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