#BeatAirPollution shifts focus to respiratory ailments in Assam
GUWAHATI: Recently-celebrated World Environment Day has once again brought to focus the dismal air pollution levels and its effects in Assam. World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5 and this year’s theme was “Beat Air Pollution.”
Assam has been recording high air pollution levels over the past months, which has also given rise to respiratory diseases which are becoming commonly reported by residents.
This was evident when respiratory diseases became the most common disease which affected Guwahatians in 2018. As many as 75,475 cases related to acute respiratory infection were registered in Kamrup (Metro) from January to December 2018.
This was revealed by data obtained by the directorate of health services, Kamrup (Metro) for the number of cases registered against different diseases for 2018.
Further, as per the National Health Profile 2018, Assam recorded a total of 22,834 cases and 225 deaths in 2017 as a result of acute respiratory infection. The numbers saw a rise in 2017 as compared to 2016.
The number of cases reported in 2016 were 20,667 while 200 deaths were recorded in Assam.
According to experts, some of the major causes of acute respiratory diseases include exposure to polluted air, excessive exposure to smoke and other toxic materials and poor immune system among others.
Guwahati has seen an increase in the levels of air pollution over the past few years.
According to latest data obtained by the Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA), the city’s air pollution levels showed an increasing trend over October and November 2018. The average PM 2.5 level in the month of October in Guwahati was 53.36 while this increased sharply to 97.9 in November.
PM 2.5 are fine particulate matters suspended in the air measuring two and a half microns or less in width. There are around 25,000 microns in an inch. Presence of high levels of PM 2.5 in the air reduces visibility and causes the air to appear hazy and can pose serious health-related risks among people including respiratory issues.
The PCBA data showed that during November, the pollutants in the air - both PM 2.5 as well as PM 10 - were recorded to be much higher than the prescribed level.
As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the prescribed safe limit for PM 2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic metre and for PM 10 it is 100 micrograms per cubic. However, the average PM 2.5 level as recorded for November was 97.9 while the average PM 10 level was 162.2.
All stakeholders need to work together: Activists
Purnima Devi Barman, a city-based wildlife biologist said that all stakeholders have equal responsibility in protecting the environment and should work together to bring about positive change.
“My special request to the authorities would be to check the pollution especially during Diwali. The way we burst so many crackers, it is the responsibility of not only the government and but also all citizens to contribute towards bettering the pollution levels,” Barman told G Plus.
She added that people should also look at reducing plastic pollution as that, too, contributes towards air pollution.
“We shouldn’t stop working towards reducing plastic waste thinking that it was the theme for the last year. We should, in fact, continue to keep working towards minimising plastic pollution too. We should not play with the future of our next generation,” added Barman.
Further, another environmental activist informed that vehicular pollution is one of the major causes of air pollution in the state.
“All vehicles should mandatorily be checked for their pollution levels and people should be encouraged for car pooling and to minimize the usage of vehicles for shorter distances. The public should also be aware about the type of pollution they are creating, everything should be very transparent,” he said.
He further added that authorities should also keep a strict check on emission levels of industries.
Guwahati celebrates World Environment Day with gusto
A day-long programme was conducted in both the official and non-official sectors of Assam on Wednesday, June 5.
Some events as part of this programme included cycle rallies, plantation programmes, awareness programmes and facilitating green heroes.
Several colleges, schools and NGOs have also taken part in the celebrations by doing their own little bit by planting trees and creating awareness among people to be sensitive towards the environment.
A cycle rally called, “Pedal against Pollution” was also held in the city to mark the occasion where over 120 cyclists took part. The rally started from Guwahati Commerce College, continued towards Noonmati and rode back to GCC again.
The event was flagged was off by Chandrakanta Basumatary, brand ambassador of the forest department. Further, Abhishek Gogoi, Special Olympics medallist led the cycle rally.
Apart from this, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal extended his greetings on Twitter and wrote: This #WorldEnvironmentDay let us commit ourselves to #BeatAirPollution and strive to protect and preserve Mother Nature. Since 2016, Govt of Assam has planted 1,42,00,000 saplings across the state, reiterating our commitment towards a #PollutionFreeAssam.
Further, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) organised a plantation drive at West Boragaon dumpsite on June 5 during which around 1000 saplings were planted at the dumpsite.
The plantation drive was carried out in presence of GMC Commissioner Debeswar Malakar, Joint Commissioner Siddhartha Goswami, and Additional Commissioner Dwijen Singh among others.
Additionally, state forest minister Parimal Shuklabaidya also took part in tree plantation programme in the state. On the occasion, several state ministers also planted saplings to mark the day.