Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday expressed concern over the state capital’s dirty air, but said that the location of the air quality monitoring station in the city was not suitable for proper assessment of pollution levels.
He also suggested that more such monitoring stations were needed in the city to provide a clearer picture.
“The location of the monitoring station at planetarium is not suitable for proper assessment of air pollution levels. Teashops keep brewing tea there and auto-rickshaws wait for passengers. The pollution figures for Patna could not be thus said to be authentic,” Nitish said.
The air quality monitoring station “should be shifted to some other location and there should be five such stations in the city to get proper figures on air pollution,” he added.
The chief minister was talking to media persons on the Legislative Assembly premises when the issue of air pollution in Patna cropped up.
According to a World Health Organisation list published earlier this year, Patna is the six-most polluted city in the world.
In recent days, the air quality index (AQI) on the state capital has been faring in the “very poor” band (301-400). Patna’s AQI was 331 on Thursday, slightly lower than 358 of New Delhi, and the prominent pollutant was PM2.5 (particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns thickness in size).
PM2.5 is considered among the main reasons behind respiratory diseases and cancer. It shoots up during the winter because the condensation of particulate matter and carbon in the lower levels of the atmosphere.
Nitish said that so far vehicular emissions and construction of houses and infrastructure were the two main reasons for air pollution in Patna, but a third reason has started gaining serious proportion — crop stubble burning.
“Previously, crop stubble was burnt in some parts of the Rohtas area. It has now spread to other districts. Crop residue is now being burnt in agriculture fields near Patna. Nobody knows who publicised this practice here, but its aggravating pollution,” Nitish added.
The chief minister has already issued directions to all district magistrates in the state to check this pernicious practice of crop stubble burning. Crop stubble burning in neighbouring states is also believed to be a major reason behind Delhi’s abysmal air quality in this season.
Greed to blame
Nitish hit out at the practice of families buying several vehicles and questioned the need for having many automobiles in a household.
“What is the need to buy four vehicles for one family, apart from flaunting their status? The number of vehicles has shot up so much that it is adding to pollution. But there is freedom to buy vehicles, so how much can we control this trend?” he asked.
The chief minister also pointed that people were tinkering with the environment and quoted Mahatma Gandhi to say: “The earth can fulfil every need of human beings, but not their greed.”