An environment activist has written to senior state government officials suggesting a few measures this winter to ensure that Kolkata’s air quality stays within safe limits.
Bonani Kakkar, who runs the NGO People United for Better Living in Calcutta (PUBLIC), wrote to the state environment secretary and commissioner of Kolkata Municipal Corporation, suggesting actions like starting a campaign against open burning of waste, restrict movement of trucks into the city and construction activities when the air quality plunges.
A study to assess the sources of air pollution in Kolkata, published in 2020, found that in the transport sector goods vehicles alone contributed 49.5 per cent of PM 2.5 emission. PM 2.5 pollutants are tiny particulate matters that are less than 2.5 microns in size and can enter the deepest crevices of lungs or can trigger a host of breathing and respiratory troubles.
Good carriers contributed 49 per cent of PM 10 emissions in the transport sector.
According to the 2020 study by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), the transport sector’s contribution to emission was 23.54 per cent. Open burning contributed 6.74 per cent of total emissions and road dust’s share was 24.75 per cent of total emissions. A big volume of road dust comes from construction waste and broken roads.
“We are demanding a ban on construction activities and on entry of trucks into Kolkata when the air quality plunges below a limit,” Kakkar said on Monday.
In the letter, she wrote that there will be “objections from many quarters but the results in terms of cleaner air will justify the steps, as they have in the case of Diwali cracker ban”.
A senior official of the state environment department ruled out the possibility of prohibiting construction or truck movement into the city when air quality plunges. “Our reaction has to be commensurate with the situation. These are steps that are taken in Delhi or Beijing where the air quality is far worse than Kolkata..,” said the official.
The letter from Kakkar cited a report published in The Telegraph on Monday that highlighted the problem of open burning in New Town.