Chennai

Chennai’s pollution levels spike on Bhogi day

Parts of the city were covered in smog on Tuesday

Parts of the city were covered in smog on Tuesday   | Photo Credit: K.V. Srinivasan

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Air quality monitoring station in Manali recorded a maximum of 500 micrograms/cubic metre of particulate matter; flight movement affected at Chennai airport

With particulate matter (PM) levels in at least two locations crossing 500 micrograms/cubic metre, the city woke up to a smoggy morning on Bhogi, celebrated on Tuesday.

The Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) Sameer App showed that the continuous air quality monitoring station in Manali recording a maximum of 500 micrograms/cubic metre of particulate matter of a size below 2.5 microns (PM2.5) and an average of 222 microgram/cubic metre, which according to the air quality index (AQI) could cause breathing difficulties to most people on prolonged exposure.

The AQI also recorded an average of 109 microgram/cubic metre in Alandur, 99 microgram/cubic metre in Velachery and 160 microgram/cubic metre at the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board’s (TNPCB) Manali station.

Chennai’s pollution levels spike on Bhogi day
 

Smoke from bonfires lit to celebrate Bhogi Pongal combined with thick fog considerably reducing visibility, and the drop in temperature caused coughs and colds among residents.

“This time was worse than last year. I was able to smell burning from the bonfires till as late as 9 a.m.,” said Amandeep Singh Khandhari, a resident of Royapettah.

Vasudevan, a resident of Chromepet, said the air quality was bad early in the morning and that his family preferred to stay indoors till the smog cleared. “By 9 a.m. when we could feel the sun’s heat and the visibility had improved,” he said.

Poor visibility affects flights

Some flights at Chennai airport were affected due to poor visibility because of the smog from Bhogi celebrations in the city early on Tuesday. Around 5 a.m. onwards, as the visibility had dropped, a few flights faced the impact. One flight from Chennai to Mysore was delayed by more than an hour. The flight that had to depart around 6.50 a.m., came to the runway but it couldn’t take off; subsequently, the flight left only an hour later, airport sources said.

Similarly, two flights, one that had to arrive from Mumbai and another from Thiruvananthapuram around 7.30 a.m. were not able to land at Chennai airport due to poor visibility and had to be diverted to Bengaluru airport. Also, another flight from Madurai, was delayed by more than an hour.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had issued a circular few days ago, requesting members of the public residing near the airport not to burn waste materials for bhogi. Two years ago nearly 73 departures and 45 arrival flights had been affected due to reduced visibility from the smoke from these celebrations.

“However, during 2019 Bhogi, through intense sensitisation among public and communities around Chennai Airport, we could minimise the effect of the smog, leading to fewer disruptions in air traffic,” they said, in a statement. They had distributed pamphlets to the public staying near the airport to bring in awareness about this issue.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 7:15:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennais-pollution-levels-spike-as-city-celebrates-bhogi/article30565445.ece

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