Rail stations suffer from air and noise pollution: CAG

A CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report portrays a very poor picture of environmental conditions at and around railway stations of the country, revealing high levels of air and noise pollution at the stations. 

The report on Performance Audit of Environment Management in Indian Railways, which was tabled this week during the just-concluded session of Parliament, has castigated the Railway Ministry for not complying with the guidelines of Pollution Control Boards of the Centre and the states. It has also pointed out that Railways does not have an environment policy and lacks a monitoring mechanism.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had carried out a study in March 2012 for assessment of ambient air quality at 14 major stations over 12 zones of Indian Railways.
The study covered Bilaspur, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Howrah, Sealdah, Khurda, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Secunderabad, Hubli, Guwahati and Chennai. Except for Jaipur, Khurda and Bhubeneswar, all the stations were found to have poor air quality.

These stations were found to be containing Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) exceeding the prescribed limit. Howrah and Sealdah also have nitrogen oxide in their ambient air.

As far as the air quality within the coaches is concerned, it also does not conform to the prescribed standards. It was observed that the average dust concentration in non-AC coaches was almost double the limit as the speed increases.
The value of Particulate Matter (PM10) was also found to be three times of CPCB prescribed limit and also higher than the standard prescribed in other international rail systems.

 “Based on the findings, Commissioner of Railway Safety (CRS) was instructed to evolve standards to be maintained for dust particles inside non-AC coaches and develop dust mitigating measures to reduce the total dust values. However, no standards have been developed till now (March 2012),” says the report.

The report points out a higher sound level at stations. Noise monitoring at 14 major stations revealed that noise levels were in excess of the prescribed limit at all stations and there was no system of monitoring the noise level.

Noise level in coaches increases with the increase in the speed of the train. It has been found to be well above the international standards for railways.

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