Kolkata

Pollution levels shoot up after Diwali

A worker's hands are covered with gunpowder as he makes fire crackers at a factory in Kolkata November 2, 2012. Firecrackers are in great demand ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, which will be celebrated across the country on November 13. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)   | Photo Credit: RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI

Air pollution levels in Kolkata shot up during Diwali on Thursday as the quantity of pollutants in Kolkata reached dangerously high levels.

The atmospheric particulate matter increased to 168.26 micro grams per cubic metre that according to heath experts is more than three times higher than the permissible limit of 50 micro grams per cubic metre.

The figures released by the West Bengal Pollution Control pointed out that the particulate matter increased a day after Diwali on Friday and stood at 248.37. According to experts, the particulate matter remains in the air for few days after bursting crackers.

The hazard due to air pollution during Diwali was, however, not limited to particulate matter. On Thursday, the quantity of sulphur dioxide (S02) reached 19.22 micrograms per cubic meter. This was even higher on Friday and was measured at 23.35 micrograms. Health experts say that elderly people are particularly vulnerable to the ill effects of air pollution.

This resulted in significant health problems for residents of Kolkata. On Thursday, during the Diwali festivities, 12 people were admitted within three hours to the city’s Fortis Hospital with severe breathing problems. “Among those admitted here during Diwai, 80 percent were asthma patients, but the rest had no history of breathing complications,” Raja Dhar, respiratory physician and intensive care specialist at Fortis Hospital told The Hindu here on Saturday. Even during the day more than seven patients were admitted to the hospital’s emergency ward with breathing problems, he added.

Besides, more than 100 instances of fire were reported across the State on Diwali. Experts point out that this kind of air pollution takes a long time to go back to normal levels.

Environmental activists slammed the State government for doing precious little to curb air pollution due to fire crackers. Naba Dutta, convenor of Sabuj Mancha(green platform), an umbrella organisation that works for environmental causes, said that the government “lacks determination” to curb the menace of air pollution.

He also criticised the West Bengal Pollution Control Board for not taking adequate measures in this regard.

Noted environmental activist Subhash Dutta claimed that the figures shown by the West Bengal Pollution Control Board are far the from the ground reality.” He pointed out that even light crackers emanate high quantity of pollutants that pose severe and long term health hazards.


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