Air funds for Bengal cities
The Centre has released Rs 192.5 crore for “air quality improvement” in the Calcutta urban agglomeration, which includes Howrah and Barrackpore, the two cities where like Calcutta the air quality is known to be poorer than the permissible limit.
The ministry of finance tweeted a document on Monday where it said Rs 209.5 crore had been set aside for Bengal. Apart from the Rs 192.5 crore for the Calcutta urban agglomeration, Rs 17 crore has been allotted for the Asansol urban agglomeration, which comprises Asansol, Raniganj and Durgapur. The air quality in all three cities is a lot poorer than the permissible limit.
The money can be used to strengthen and expand the air quality monitoring network, said Kalyan Rudra, the chairperson of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board. Another state government official stressed the need to establish more air quality monitoring stations.
“If we have wider monitoring, we will have a more comprehensive knowledge of air pollution of the state. This knowledge can then be used to take measures to improve the air quality,” said the official.
Calcutta has seven continuous air quality monitoring stations, Howrah three and Asansol one, according to the National Air Quality Index. Barrackpore, Durgapur and Haldia have none.
Mumbai has 10 stations and Delhi 37.
“We can use the funds to further our action plan on air quality improvement,” said Rudra. According to officials, the action plan includes:
- Providing LPG cylinders to roadside eateries that use coal to cook
- Bio-mining of waste dumping grounds to prevent natural burning of waste triggered by stored methane
- Stopping open burning of waste
- Phasing out of commercial vehicles aged 15 years or older nIntroducing CNG or electricity-powered public transport
The document tweeted by the finance ministry said the money was meant for “air quality improvement measures, including capacity building of the local bodies...as well as meeting the additional needs of State Pollution Control Boards to appropriately assist the local bodies in monitoring the ambient air quality”.