While on one hand various surveys conducted in the past say that the city of Visakhapatnam is one among the fastest growing cities in the country, a number studies also reveal that the city is one among the top 10 polluted cities in the country.
Professor E.U.B. Reddi from the Department of Environment Studies, Andhra University, has pointed out that urbanisation is the root cause for all environmental ills.
According to Darwin, pollution is directly linked to urbanisation and population explosion, and the port city is no different.
“As per a research done by the Department of Geography, AU, the city has grown rapidly post Independence. The total urban area has grown from 26 sq km in 1974 to 111 sq km in 2002, and the population has increased from about 16,000 in 1858 to about 20 lakh as per the latest census,” says the professor.
Along with urbanisation comes industrialisation, vehicular pollution and burning of fossil fuel.
Another factor which is influencing the climate and environment is the concept of Urban Heat Island. “Rapid urbanisation has lead to the growth of concrete jungle and blacktop roads. Almost 85 per cent of the urban area is covered with concrete structures and metal roads. This is trapping the solar energy and resulting in the creation of Urban Heat Island (UHI) phenomenon,” says Prof. Hema Malini from the Department of Geography, AU.
According to Prof. Reddi, be it noxious industrial fumes or dust from various industries such as VPT or for that matter vehicular pollution, the geographical location of the city is acting as a catalyst for the rapid growth of air pollutants. “Being a coastal city, the humidity is reacting with various pollutants in the air to give rise to the synergetic pollution effect, which in turn is responsible for the creation of hybrid pollutants,” says Prof. Reddi.
While urbanisation will create industrialisation, what needs to be looked into is the attitude. Green belt is the need of the hour.