Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi is more polluted than his workplace Delhi. According to the data released by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCP) for the week December 12 to 18, the quality of air in the holy city was worse than the most polluted areas in the national Capital. The revelations regarding increasingly severe level of pollution in the ancient city are major challenge for the Prime Minister’s ambitious plans to develop it at par with the Japanese city Kyoto.
Also on Monday, the 24 hours average of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter) was recorded at 400 micro gm per cubic meter (mgpcm) which was third highest in the country after Muzaffarnagar (467) and Faridabad (405). The average value of PM 2.5 in Delhi was recorded at 394. “The quality of air in Varanasi is very poor. It can cause respiratory illness on prolonged exposures so warrants immediate measures to control the pollution in the city,” said a senior official in CPCB.
“As Delhi is the national Capital, several measures have been introduced to combat pollution but Varanasi is almost neglected,” he added. According to the data released by the CPCP, Varanasi was more polluted than Delhi in last week with maximum average of PM 2.5 was 341 on last Wednesday, almost double of the average PM 2.5 on all the pollution measurement stations in Delhi.
According to CPCB officials, reasons behind increasing level of pollution in Varanasi are – increasing number of vehicles, no ban on old and heavy vehicles, small and medium industries in residential areas and poor traffic management which cause huge traffic jams in the city.
The level of pollution has continuously been going up in Varanasi as in December the level of PM 2.5 has crossed 300 marks five times. “On November 30, the level of PM 2.5 had reached 529 marks which is characterised as severe,” added the officer. The monitoring of pollution in Varanasi was started in September 2010 but regular data are available only from June 2014 which reveals continuously high level of pollution in almost all the categories.
“We appreciate the efforts of the Prime Minister to clean Ghats of Ganga but this alone is not sufficient. Kyoto is far ahead than us in managing air pollution. The Central government has already made agreements with Kyoto for the development of the city. It must include controlling air pollution in its plan,” said Vivek Chattopadhyay of Center for Science and Environment (CSE). “The small cities are suffering as environment activists have focused on big cities only,” he added.