City breathes easy on Bhogi as pollutant levels decrease

Chennai : 15 Jan, 2019 (Times of India)

Chennai:The city breathed better this Bhogi (January14) with pollution levels hovering within the permissible limits in eight areas, while seven other areas recorded pollutants well above the permissible levels. With the visibility level at 500 metres, flight services were not disrupted at the Chennai airport on Monday.

The reduced pollution level was mainly attributed to the reduction in burning of plastic materials. The state pollution control officials said more than 100 used tyres kept for burning in various parts of the city were seized. Similarly, the patrolling team from the board put out the burning waste materials on a few roads, using water and sand.

The ambient air quality monitored by the board on Sunday and Monday showed that both sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide levels were within the permissible limits on both pre-Bhogi and Bhogi days. However, the Particulate Matters (PM) 10 and 2.5, the fine dust presence in the atmosphere, have gone up in a few places in the city. For example, the PM 10 was high in both Tondiarpet in north Chennai and T Nagar in Chennai. While in Tondiarpet, it was 106 microgram per metre cube on pre-Bhogi day and went up to 210 on Bhogi day. Similarly in T Nagar, the PM 10 levels stood at 181 and 194. The permissible limit is 100.

As far as PM 2.5 is concerned, the Ambattur area recorded the highest at 109 microgram per metre cube, as against the permissible limits of 60 micrograms per metre cube. This was followed by Thiru-vi-Ka Nagar, where the PM 2.5 levels stood at 95. The other areas which recorded higher PM 2.5 levels included Tiruvottiyur, Manali, Madhavaram, Tondiarpet, Teynampet and Valasaravakkam on Bhogi day.

Last year on Bhogi, in most places in the city, the PM 10 levels were very high. Ambattur recorded 343 microgram per metre cube and in 2017 it was 306. A year before that it was 221in Ambattur. Similarly, Valasaravakkam area too recorded high pollution levels in the last three years. The board did not have the equipment to monitor the PM 2.5 levels till last year, it was installed only a few months ago, said the member secretary D Sekar.

Professor of Civil Engineering at IIT Madras, S M Shiva Nagendra said the plastic materials, including tyres, are burnt on this day. This, however, has come down due to the plastic ban in the state enforced at the beginning of the year. This ban has indirectly helped in reducing the pollution levels, as many people avoided burning plastic waste this year, he said.