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Rising vehicle numbers in Banglore may negate stabalisation in air pollution levels

Source: Banglore Times, Date: , 2007

Miss your walk in the morning and make up for it in the evening. Only be prepared to come back covered with a film of dust and grime. That's what can happen if you live in the more polluted areas in the city. So the recent recommendation to the Supreme Court by the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority that cities like Bangalore should step up compressed natural gas (CNG) use seems like a step in the right direction.

The EPCA says Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow and Ahmedabad should increase the use of (CNG) for vehicles as Delhi did.

This makes sense in the light of what the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) says. Sources say air pollution levels, which are a result of vehicular emissions may be stabilising in some parts. But the huge number of vehicles nullify the effect.

On their part, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and KSPCB have set up online air quality monitoring stations at AMCO Batteries, Graphite India, Victoria hospital, Yeshwantpur police station, Peenya industrial estate and KHB Industrial Area, Yelahanka. The monitoring is done on a daily basis against five parameters suspended particulate matter, respirable suspended particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and lead.

But, says MDN Simha, member secretary, KSPCB, "All positive changes are negated by the number of vehicles added on every day. We need an integrated comprehensive system to reduce pollution levels."

Experts say the levels may have stabilised in some areas because of the conversion to LPG by autos, the stringent norms car manufacturers now adhere to, among other reasons. (However, in certain spots, last year, all the values against the parameters had increased like at Victoria hospital. And the carbon dioxide levels at both City Market and the Sacred Hearts School junction had increased to 8- 10 mgm/m 3 as against the permissible limits of 2mgm/m 3 . This is due to the high traffic volumes here, mainly).

CNG seems the plausible alternative, says traffic expert Professor MN Sreehari, "The use of CNG in Delhi has brought down pollution levels considerably. Smog levels have come down. CNG is even better than LPG, since it is a natural fuel," he adds.

And when that happens, respiratory and related illnesses also decrease. Says Dr Nagendra Prasad, "Pollution levels affect the skin. The sweat glands may get blocked, making the skin sensitive to UV rays. This may produce a burning sensation in the skin, or irritation, or pigmentation or redness."

It may also increase respiratory infections of the throat and the nose. The filtration mechanism may be lost, so that particles in the pollutants have immediate access to the throat. This affects the pharynx. That's why some people spit when on the road. The fumes may also affect the sinus."

Food expert Ajit Saldanha goes for a walk around Ulsoor Lake every evening between 5.30 and 6.15 pm. "It's quite bad, the air and the noise pollution. Unless a nodal agency checks the pollution levels, we have no choice but to suffer. The SC cracked down on Delhi, and insisted on CNG as a fuel, a watershed moment."