Boring Road resident Pratyush Ranjan makes sure that the windows of his car are rolled up when he is stuck in a traffic snarl on Patna roads. Else, he experiences an irritation in his nose and throat.
“It is impossible to keep the car windows open when you are stuck in a traffic jam. The air is claustrophobic,” said Ranjan.
The unpleasant experience of the professional is common among residents of the state capital and is caused by the alarming increase in dust particles in the atmosphere of the city, claim experts.
S.N. Jaiswal, a scientist with Bihar State Pollution Control Board, told The Telegraph: “Pollutants like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide are within the permissible limit in the city but dust particles that have increased alarmingly are creating a hazard.”
He added: “Emissions from vehicles, the number of which increases every day, complicate the problem.”
According to figures available with the district transport office, Patna, the number of vehicles — two-wheelers and four-wheelers — has increased considerably over the past few years. (See graphics)
The corresponding rise in the dust particles and polluting emissions has led to a number of health problems like allergies, irritation and asthma.
“We need fresh air to live but suspended dust in the air is a health hazard,” said Dr Kiran Kishore Sharan, a city-based ENT specialist.
He added: “Asthma patients are the worst sufferers. It cannot be cured and its medication is costly. Patients need to be on the guard and avoid breathing in vehicular emissions. They should also use inhalers (as prescribed) in critical situations.”
Children, who suffer from asthma, are affected the most because of the inclement atmosphere.
Paediatrician Dr Avinav Aggarwal told The Telegraph: “Asthma attacks among children are common. Health complications because of air pollution are on the rise in the city. This is a serious issue but there is no proper regulation to check the air pollution level.
“For instance, vehicles sometimes use kerosene as fuel. Kerosene has a high lead content. If children inhale its emissions, it can result in lead poisoning that disrupts normal growth and brain development and also causes lung diseases.”
Human beings are not the only ones in danger — flora and fauna, too, are susceptible to unchecked pollution.
Shivpuri resident Neelam Ghosh said: “When I came to Patna 25 years ago, the city was full of greenery and the air was fresh. But now the air has become stale.”
Experts corroborate the homemaker’s claim.
Ashok Ghosh, member, state environment impact assessment authority, Bihar, told The Telegraph: “The roads in Patna are rarely swept, there are heaps of dust everywhere. The district administration should take action against the people responsible for augmenting the pollution.”
District authorities claim that they are making their maximum effort to spread awareness. Harihar Prasad, district transport officer, Patna, said: “Last year, we organised a pollution awareness campaign. We checked a large number of cars and issued green cards to those which were functioning.”
He added: “There are 26 pollution under control centres in Patna. A person violating the norms can be fined up to Rs 1,000. The district transport officer also sends his force at regular intervals to check on vehicles. But the awareness level among different people is different.”
Experts also claim that it is after all you and I who can keep our city clean.
“It is the responsibility of the people to keep their neighbourhood and city clean. Today’s pollution will affect our future generations,” said Ashok Ghosh.