65% of the daily air quality observations for the state fell under the 'Good' and 'Satisfactory' categories in 2018-19
The Air Quality Status Report of Maharashtra 2018-19 released on World Environment Day this year states that 65% of the daily air quality observations for the state fell under the 'Good' and 'Satisfactory' categories, which is a 5% upward jump from the observations recorded in 2016-17. This displays a positive trend, seeing as it is an increase from the 53% recorded in 2015-16 and 54% recorded in 2014-15.
The highlights of the report Air Quality Status Report of Maharashtra 2018-19 are as follows:
- 6% reduction in PM2.5 levels and 9% reduction in PM10 levels have been observed this year, as compared to last year (2017-18).
- All regions were found to be clean with regard to SO2, seeing as the concentrations recorded were under the permissible limit of 50 µg/m3.
- Out of the 72 Active Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations established across Maharashtra, NOx concentrations exceeded the standard limit (40 µg/m3) at 29 stations, primarily in the Mumbai, Kalyan and Pune regions.
Out of the following pollutants considered for the report, SO2, lead, CO, NOx, O3 and RSPM, the concentration levels of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) were observed to be above the standard permissible limit (60 µg/m3) prescribed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Over the past few years, the RSPM levels recorded in Maharashtra have been considerably high, especially in the regions of Chandrapur, Kalyan and Mumbai. This could be attributed to the heavy presence of industries and an increase in the number of automobiles in these regions.
While the overall air quality displayed by the Air Quality Index may have gone up, the concentration levels of harmful chemical compounds in some pockets of the state are still undesirable. These could pose both short-term and long-term hazards for human health, thus making it essential to practise and promote air conservation efforts.
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) has been preparing the annual Air Quality Status Report of the state for Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) since 2013. Based on the data provided by the MPCB, TERI analyses the parameters listed under the general Air Quality Index, determines their values, compares it to the previous years, and gives a general consensus on the implications of these figures. Apart from giving an overview of the current Air Quality in Maharashtra, this report also provides graphs on the ambient air quality monitoring sectors, as well as trends of pollutant concentrations in the air. For further information, the Air Quality Reports of the past few years could be accessed on the MPCB's online portal.
National and state governments have been making constant efforts to reduce the pollution levels, a few of which are mentioned below:
- National Clear Air Programme launched by the central government earlier this year attempts to cover 43 smart cities and 102 non-attainment cities, with the primary goal of reducing the concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) in the air. Although NCAP has been subject to scrutiny, appropriate planning and modifications can ensure that it lives up to its intentions.
- Adoption of Bharat Stage VI – the most advanced emission standard for automobiles to go into effect on or after 1st April, 2020 – is another positive step to reduce the health hazard caused by vehicular emissions.
- Daily pollution checks by authorities, efforts for increasing tree and vegetation cover as well as treatment of domestic waste by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board are efforts representative of the interest expressed by the state government to reduce the pollution levels in the state.
There are several initiatives that could be taken by citizens, too, which would go a long way in improving the quality of the air we breathe. Citizens' groups can undertake the initiative of making sure that industries and factories are functioning in adherence with government-prescribed environmental regulations. These could include making appeals to curtail the volume of harmful emissions released by them – especially around densely populated areas – and to adequately treat their sewage before draining it into water bodies.
The general populace must also be aware of the possible ways in which clean energy and energy efficient devices can be introduced in their day-to-day life. They must advocate their use in their communities. Less use of fossil fuels and greater adoption of renewable energy will have a positive impact on the environment in the near and distant future.