September 28, 2020

Govt disbelief at WHO claim

Patna: The state government has cast doubts on the World Health Organization (WHO) report that put Patna ahead of Delhi in the list of India’s most air polluted cities.

“We have written to the Central Pollution Control Board, asking it to share details about the statistics given to WHO,” deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said while addressing a workshop on air pollution jointly organised by the Centre for Environment, Energy and Climate Change (CEECC) and Bihar State Disaster Management Authority. “The State Pollution Control Board figures are different. And it supplies data to the central body WHO has quoted,” Sushil said.

He agreed air quality in Patna was not up to the mark but said there was no reason to panic. The WHO report has created panic,” Sushil said. “I heard that after the report became public, a few companies began selling masksat Dak Bungalow roundabout.”

He said the WHO figures were the average of six years and not the current PM 2.5 concentrations. The PM 2.5 concentration in Patna varied from 191mg in December to 45.9mg in June. “The air quality starts worsening from September and is worst in December. The air quality is poor during winter but not alarming,” he said.

The WHO report put Kanpur as the most air-polluted city in India, followed by Faridabad, Varanasi, Gaya, Patna, Delhi, Lucknow, Agra, Muzaffarpur and Srinagar. “Most of the cities fall in the Gangetic plain, where sand and dust from the embankments enters the air system and hampers its quality,” Sushil said, pointing out that because of the crackdown on the sand mafia, construction work was badly hit for 4-5 months. “How is the air quality shown as poor even in that period,” he asked.

Modi released a study on “Air Qaulity Assessment in Patna” carried out by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune. Air quality at 10 different spots in Patna varied from moderate to poor.

Experts appear to agree with Sushil’s doubts on WHO’s claims. “We have carried out air quality tests in most of the 14 cities named in the WHO report. I am not saying Patna’s air quality is good. But it is much better than Delhi or Mumbai’s,” said Gufran Beg of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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