Thursday, June 20, 2024

Polluted towns

For the past several years, the civil society have been continuously warning the state authorities against the rising threat of air and water pollution in Dimapur and Kohima, as well as in the rest of the state. Unfortunately authorities have failed to take cognizance of the warning bells and almost slept over the matter. As per reports, Dimapur and Kohima have recorded more than the normal Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM). The question is why has the state failed to provide adequate mechanism to control air and water pollution in the two cities and keep it within the acceptable limits. At the recently held National Clean Air programme at Dimapur on the theme “Awareness and capacity building”, Nagaland Pollution Control Board (NPCB) scientist ‘B’, Yanathung Kithan stated that the annual average concentration of RSPM, which the government has set was 60 micro gram per cubic metre or µg/m3. Below 60 µg/m3 shows the air quality is good. He, however, said Dimapur for consecutive years, have shown 79 µg/m3, 78 µg/m3, 99 µg/m3, and 97 µg/m3 from 2019-2022 respectively. While RSPM for Kohima from 2019-22 has shown 91 µg/m3, 89 µg/m3, 77 µg/m3, and 72 µg/m3, which shows an improvement. Kithan had informed that air quality of Kohima and Dimapur had been placed under non-attainment cities with respect to particulate matter (PM10), which shows a serious concern. Now the main causes of pollution in the two cities are vehicles, road construction and infrastructure development activities, burning of garbage and industrial establishments like stone crushers, etc. All these activities cause air pollution in addition to noise pollution which also indirectly contributes to air pollution. Apart from air pollution, we also find water pollution on a massive scale in these two cities. The major causes of water pollution are discharge of untreated sewage from domestic and commercial sources into water bodies. There is lack of civic sense among the people, which is considerably contributing to air and water pollution. The sad part of the issue is that the consequences of air and water pollution are not fully realized by the people and the government. Scientific investigation has shown that air pollution causes grave respiratory problems among the people who inhale the polluted air. Not just human beings, even cattle life is threatened by polluted air. Respiratory problems, cough, sore throat and even cancer are feared to be caused by polluted air. Likewise, the dangers of water pollution need not be over-emphasized. Apart from humans, polluted water used for irrigation is already causing grave damage to crops and to the cattle that drink it. Indeed it is a sad commentary on the State Pollution Control Board that it is not able to control the pollution or at least warn the Government from time to time about the possible adverse consequences of air and water pollution to the two cities where maximum population is concentrated. The government needs to act fast and take up the matter on war footing. For vehicular emissions, proper checking of vehicles has to be enforced. Other necessary measures have to be taken to see that pollution of air is stopped. We have been stressing on government needing to have modern waste destruction plants with modern technology so that garbage and waste are disposed of properly without the need of burning these and causing air pollution. Before the situation slips out of hand, the authorities, especially the State Pollution Control Board, shall have to move fast and arrest the downslide in the control of pollution. In fact, the State Pollution Control Board shall not have to rest content with controlling pollution in the two cities alone but must take care of all towns in the state which are not safe against pollution. After all developmental work is also undertaken in the other districts and the same reasons apply there also. The Pollution Control Board must begin the task of supervising pollution in all District Headquarters and also gets the budget fixed for control of pollution in district level developmental boards whenever they meet. Let no negligence be allowed in this area as it is directly connected to the health of the people.