Vehicles drive up air pollution level in city

The growing number of vehicles in the city may be proving to be a traffic hazard and causing shortage of parking space. However, there is another hazard, not visible to the eyes that is affecting the city: the pollution level in Chandigarh has been measured to be more than the permissible limit. The data by the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) reveals that the air pollution level has been increasing over the past few years.

CPCC measures the pollution level at five locations in the city: Sector 17, Industrial Area, Punjab Engineering College, IMTECH, Sector 39, and Kaimbwala village. The aim is to cover residential, educational, commercial and industrial areas. The annual average of the pollution level compiled by CPCC indicates that the pollution level has been increasing over the past few years.

The permissible limit of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) is 60 microgram per cubic metre (mpcm). However, in the year 2011, it was found to be 137 mpcm in Industrial Area, 103 mpcm at Kaimbwala, 91 mpcm at PEC, 90 mpcm at IMTECH and 87 mpcm in Sector 17. Similar was the case in 2010 when the RSPM was found to be 122 mpcm, 83 mpcm, 77 mpcm, 95 mpcm and 86 mpcm respectively at these places.

The level of RSPM and SPM was much higher between 2004 and 2006. A decline was witnessed in the later years. However, for the last two years, the pollution level is again on the rise.

Member secretary of CPCC P J S Dadhwal says, "Though the condition in Chandigarh is better than many places, the pollution levels are higher than the permissible limits. Due to engines of vehicles becoming more sophisticated, the level of sulphur dioxide has declined and is much below the permissible limit. However, the level of RSPM and SPM is high. Since the city does not have any hazardous industry, one of the reasons for the increasing pollution level is the high number of vehicles."

Dean University Instructions, Panjab University, Prof R K Kohli says the emissions from the vehicles are a cause of pollution. "There is a need for a comprehensive solution to the problem. Public transport is not efficient and people are dependent on their vehicles. Problems like parking and traffic jams are visible and concern the authorities. However, the effects that are not visible should also be taken care of," he said.

On average, 120 vehicles are registered in the city everyday and the vehicular population is more than 8 lakh. The floating population of vehicles is around one lakh. The issue of lack of parking space has been a cause for concern with discussions being held in several meetings including the preparation of the Master Plan. Several measures are being looked into for tackling the problem including breaking the boundary walls of smaller houses to provide space for parking. Paver blocks have been installed around parks within residential areas where people can park their vehicles. Proposals for community parking and multilevel parking lots are being mulled.

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