“Large-scale construction activities going on because of Games making the air heavy”

With the level of suspended particulate matter (SPM) in Delhi's atmospheres measuring 1.5 times higher than the prescribed limit, many citizens are complaining of respiratory problems that is making breathing difficult.

“Large-scale construction activities going on in the Capital because of the Commonwealth Games and the Delhi Metro rail work is making the air heavy with high levels of SPM. We measured 151 micro grams per cubic metre of SPM as against the prescribed standard of 60 micro grams per cubic metre (24 hourly) at the ITO air quality monitoring site earlier this week. The city does record higher levels of SPM during the month of May and this reduces only after the rains come in,” said Central Pollution Control Board director S. D. Makhijani.

“We are, however, expecting that the high SPM level, which is primary due to the ongoing construction activities and heavy vehicular movement, will subside after the Commonwealth Games is over. As for immediate relief, Delhiites will be able to breath freer as soon as the monsoon sets in,'' he added.

Mr. Makhijani said the Capital's SPM level was the highest among other cities in the country.

“But it also has to be taken into consideration that no other city in the country is reporting construction activity at this scale under such climatic conditions,'' he added.

Dr. B.L. Kapur Memorial Hospital (Critical Care and Respiratory Medicine) senior consultant Dr. Rajesh Pande said: “The season is definitely tough for city dwellers and complaints of respiratory ailments are common. With several city roads dug up the air has become very heavy and people are coming in with complaints of breathlessness. During the months of April-June, we usually don't see so many patients coming in for asthma or other respiratory ailments. But this time round it is surprising to see so many patients coming in with dust-related allergies, asthma and other respiratory ailments.''

Dr. Punnet Khanna, physician at the same hospital, added: “The best way is to avoid the specific triggers and allergens that cause the problems. But with the city enveloped in a cloud of dust, asthmatics aren't really left with any option. Using preventive medicines or precautions prior to the exposure will help minimise allergy symptoms. The season is bad especially for those whose immune is compromised.''