Development works and vehicular traffic conspire to create high pollution levels in these neighbourhoods and thereabouts, writes T. Madhavan

Residents of Anna Nagar, Kilpauk, Aminjikarai and Arumbakkam never seem to have had it so bad, health-wise that is. The thick smog that has enveloped their roads for over a year now has forced many – especially those with asthma and other respiratory conditions, infants and older people – to seek medical treatment. Says S. Amirthavalli, a resident of 6th Avenue in Anna Nagar West, “A few decades ago, many people bought plots and houses in this locality, because it was evidently pollution-free. But now, air and noise pollution caused by vehicles and sewage in the neighbourhood are so bad that people have decided to move out.”

“The roads are so dusty and a dust cloud seems to be constantly hovering over us. Besides, the roads are hardly swept and with construction work on, the dust is unimaginable,” says R. Narayanan of Anna Nagar West. The situation is no better in the neighbouring areas such as Anna Nagar East, Kilpauk, Shenoy Nagar, Aminjikarai and Arumbakkam.

“A road ring-laying project, which has run into delays, has caused pollution levels to rise alarmingly in areas on both sides of Thirumangalam Road,” says V. Rajagopal, a social activist. “Dust from the road enters drawing rooms of houses and apartments in the vicinity. This has resulted in respiratory ailments in children and the elderly,” he says. “Houses on 13th Main Road bear the brunt of high noise pollution, thanks to traffic diversion announced for Metro Rail work,” he points out.

According to the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, Anna Nagar registered an RSPM level ( which denotes dust particles that are lesser than 10 microns size) of 185 microgram/cubic metre during July 16-17, whereas it was 121 microgram/ cubic metre during the corresponding period last year. In T Nagar it was 88 microgram/cubic metre during July 16-17. The nitrogen dioxide levels too have shown an increase in areas including Anna Nagar, when compared to T .Nagar, which has been categorized as a Traffic Area.

Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board is monitoring the air quality at different localities across the city two days per week for 24 hours. TNPCB sources said improving public transport would help reduce nitrous oxides and once the road digging works are over the laying of new roads would reduce the levels of pollution. According to them, a greater use of gas-operated vehicles would reduce the air pollution significantly.

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