Air pollution in Kolkata and five other cities of West Bengal witnessed an alarming rise during December 2021 as compared to the corresponding period last year, a study by the Centre for Science and Environment showed.
Real-time monitoring data from six cities across the state was computed for the research.
“This is part of the air quality tracker initiative of the Urban Data Analytics Lab of CSE. The objective of this new analysis is to understand the quantum and nature of the winter pollution in major cities of West Bengal, which have real-time air quality monitoring…” said Avikal Somvanshi, programme manager, Sustainable Cities Programme-CSE.
Durgapur, a major industrial hub of the state, recorded the most polluted air in the region in 2021 with an average annual PM 2.5 concentration of 80 ug/m3, he told PTI.
Haldia had the lowest 2021 average value of 39 ug/m3.
PM 2.5 are tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter, and can enter deep into the lungs and even the bloodstream, experts said.
“We have noticed that air pollution turns poor in synchronised form in Bengal from early December due to the onset of winter, and continues till January. Even the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions could not improve it,” Somvanshi said.
The weekly air quality index (AQI) average during December end-early January in Durgapur was 171, Howrah 148 and Kolkata 118.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
“Considering it was an average of the daily AQI, the air quality was very poor, and an action plan needs to be implemented at the earliest.
“This analysis shows that air pollution during winter is a problem in all the cities with Durgapur and Howrah experiencing poor and very poor days comparable to places in NCR and Uttar Pradesh ,” Somvanshi said.