Recent reports on air quality in the twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu, as well as the alarming situation in New Delhi, the most polluted city in the world, should be a cause for serious health worry. In Srinagar and Jammu, the Air Quality Index (AQI) level was at 70 and 91 respectively. In Bandipora, the AQI was around 84, while Udhampur recorded a level of 70. While these levels may be considered moderate, they underline the need for consistent monitoring and action to prevent air quality deterioration.
Another source of concern are the measurements of particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 in the twin cities. In Srinagar, PM2.5 and PM10 were 22 and 60, respectively, and in Jammu, they were 31 and 62. In Bandipora, the levels were 28 and 24. These numbers indicate the presence of fine particulate matter, which can have adverse effects on respiratory health.
The situation in New Delhi, on the other hand, has been far more dire. The metropolis has been enveloped in a toxic haze, with the AQI reaching the “severe” category. With an AQI of 640, New Delhi was labeled the most polluted city globally. This drastic pollution increase was attributed to a combination of lower temperatures, stagnant wind conditions, and crop stubble burning in nearby agricultural areas.
Air pollution at such levels poses serious health risks. Residents have reported eye irritation, respiratory issues, and discomfort. The harmful effects are not limited to humans; even pets have experienced restlessness and respiratory problems due to poor air quality. The situation is so serious that junior schools were ordered to close temporarily, and children had to wear masks during their commute.
It’s important to recognize that air pollution is not an isolated issue; it’s related to weather patterns, agricultural practices, and regional factors. The rise in car ownership in both the cities has also contributed to the growing problem of traffic congestion and air pollution. The chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Pollution Control Board (PCB), Vasu Yadav, has rightly pointed out that air quality can worsen due to various factors, including local issues related to burning crop stubble and leaves. The PCB has encouraged people not to burn crop stubble but to compost it instead. This is a step in the right direction. Promoting green transportation made possible with the introduction of electric buses, and raising public awareness about the importance of clean air are also crucial. The situation is going to get worse as the winter progresses, hence the need for people to follow the PCB guidelines and for the administration to implement them.
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