Chennai Corporation hopes to reduce air pollution with new traffic management plan

The civic body hopes to improve air quality by reducing idling time of vehicles through dynamic artificial intelligence system and consequently reduce the pollution at 184 junctions

February 20, 2023 12:50 am | Updated 12:50 am IST - CHENNAI

After the Centre flagged the issue of rising air pollution, the Greater Chennai Corporation and other line agencies are set to focus on improving air quality with initiatives such as the integrated traffic management system.

A senior official of the Corporation said the JICA-funded integrated traffic management system project will include more innovative aspects to improve air quality by reducing the idling time of vehicles through dynamic artificial intelligence system and consequently reduce the pollution at 184 junctions across the city.

In addition to the 30 pollution sensors installed by the integrated command and control centre (ICCC), the civic body plans to integrate and monitor data from pollution sensors managed by various civic agencies, universities and private agencies and declaring no pollution zones near schools.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change recently flagged the issue of “non attainment” of pollution reduction targets in Chennai under the National Clean Air Programme, sources said. PM2.5, the smaller particles that affect public health, have reportedly not been monitored in all areas of Chennai, owing to lack of equipment and the city has not listed and quantified all major sources of pollution.

Biomining at dumpyards

Meanwhile, the Corporation is working on finding a lasting solution to the problem of poor air quality near garbage dumpyards.  

“We are doing biomining in Perungudi and focusing on pollution reduction in the long term. Of the six packages, 95% work has been completed in three packages. Biomining of all the legacy garbage will be over next year and air quality will improve in the area. We are going in for fresh biomining at Kodungaiyur. That will reduce the atmospheric pollution from legacy garbage in north Chennai,” an official said.

“In March, bidding for biomining will start. We are putting up bio CNG plants at Chetpet, Kodungaiyur and near Madhavaram, each with a capacity to convert 100 tonnes of wet waste to bio CNG, which will mitigate the pollution due to carbon gases,” said the official.

Non-point sources

Environmental expert K. Karthikeyan said that pollution levels had been gradually increasing in the city and non-point sources of pollution should be studied. Non-point sources refer to pollution that did not happen from a single source.

On biomining of legacy waste at the dumpyards, Mr. Karthikeyan said pointed out that the process generated bio aerosols. This happens when bio inoculum is sprinkled on the legacy waste. The bio digested waste needs to be mechanically screened. The PM2.5 in the form of aerosols should be specifically monitored. The biomining site should be barricaded and the entire process should be carried out in a closed atmosphere.

Velachery resident S. Kumararaja said the pollution caused by heavy vehicles used for conservancy operations was high during the winter. “The burning of garbage has caused pollution. Old buses of MTC have also been causing pollution, owing to poor maintenance,” he said.

“The Corporation is planning to promote more non-motorised transport, similar to what we have done in Buckingham Canal, along MRTS station, where we have put up 4 to 5 km of cycling track. Such activities prevent vehicular pollution,” said an official. 

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