“Industries main pollutants in Kathivakkam”

Residents of North Chennai are now used to the innumerable containers, lorries and heavy vehicles that criss-cross several localities. However, they are finding it hard to cope with the resulting rise in air pollution levels.

The maximum level of total suspended particulate matter (TSPM) recorded between April 2010 and March 2011 in Tiruvottiyur is 585 microgram/cubic metre and that of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) is 292 microgram/cubic metre. The prescribed standard of TSPM for industrial areas is 360 microgram/cubic metre and for RSPM it is 120 microgram/cubic metre. These values were recorded by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP), which is funded by the Central Pollution Control Board.

“There is 24-hour container traffic on our roads. When there is traffic jam on one road, containers enter other roads and do not bother about other traffic. There is a lot of mud on the sides of the roads and the vehicles too bring in dust,” said V.Rajkumar, a resident of Theradi in Tiruvottiyur.

Due to heavy vehicular traffic , the roads get damaged easily and only patch work is taken up. Containers frequently fall off the heavy vehicles as they are not properly locked. Boards warning that containers must not use roads in the mornings during school hours are missing now, he added.

The maximum level of TSPM recorded in the same period in Manali is 407 microgram/cubic metre and the level of RSPM is 246 microgram/cubic metre. The maximum level of TSPM recorded in the same period in Kathivakkam is 353 microgram/cubic metre and the level of RSPM is 219 microgram/cubic metre.

Manali resident M.Mahalingam said that when residents see the colour of the flame from companies, they know there would be more soot in the air on that day. “We have a lot of warehouses in Andarkuppam, Sadayankuppam and Vellivoyalchavady and the vehicular traffic in those areas is unimaginable. Containers are not allowed on roads between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. However, many heavy vehicles do not heed to such traffic arrangements. A lot of accidents happen on the road connecting Manali and Manali New Town. Work on widening the road is yet to be completed,” he said.

M. Kalaivanan of Kathivakkam said that industries were the main pollutants in his area. “The municipality does not sweep the roads and there is dust everywhere.”

Many residents of North Chennai complained that a fine layer of dust was found even inside houses. “Our house is not on the main road but we still find a fine layer of dust on the TV set, computer and book shelves. We often fall sick. Cold and cough are common,” said a resident from Ennore.

Kalpana Balakrishnan, Head of the Department of Environmental Health Engineering, Sri Ramachandra University, said that being next door to a highway or a main road is as good as being on it. “If outside air is clean, we will not have an issue inside the house in an urban setting. Absence of indoor sources does not guarantee absence of indoor exposures,” she said.

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Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012