Millennium Post

PCB mulls setting up office to detect stubble burning

Kolkata: The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) has decided to set up an office to detect the stubble-burning areas increasing pollution through satellite imaging, using remote sensing technology.

"We are working with IIT Delhi on this project. We have decided to install remote sensors across the state to detect stubble-burning which is a major cause of air pollution," said WBPCB chairman Kalyan Rudra, on the sidelines of the workshop 'West Bengal Air Quality Management Mission', organised by the board in collaboration with World Bank.

He reiterated that two scientists from the board will be trained by IIT Delhi to work on the project.

"We have got a space near a shopping mall which is located close to a private hospital on E M Bypass in the city. WBPCB will sign an MoU with the institute soon," Rudra pointed out.

On February 8, the state Environment department came out with a notification prohibiting "the indiscriminate burning of leftover paddy and straw/stubble across Bengal with immediate effect," saying that the "indiscriminate burning in the open fields after the harvesting of crops is causing widespread air pollution in the whole state."

Having banned stubble-burning earlier this year, the state government is now relying on an intense awareness campaign and use of advanced agricultural equipment to ensure that farmers do not indulge in the polluting practice. However, officials claim that the reality is far from reassuring in the state.

While the air quality in the city deteriorated to 'poor' following Kali Puja and Diwali, the Air Quality Index (AQI) read 233 (PM 2.5) at the air monitoring station of WBPCB at Rabindra Bharati University in North Kolkata the day after the festival.

It might be mentioned that AQI between the 201 to 300 mark is categorised as 'poor' and 'very unhealthy' and can cause respiratory problems.

Kolkata also generates 1,600 tonnes of construction and demolition (C&D) waste annually.

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation's official website pointed out that approximately 4,500 metric tonnes of garbage is generated daily in the city. The other causes of pollution include emission of smoke from vehicles, industrial waste and construction sites.

"We are here for some technical discussions to bring in some international experience about how other countries are coping with air pollution," said Kasin Shepardson of World Bank, who has come to the city for the two-day workshop.

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