Taking note of the rising air pollution in the city, the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has directed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to come up with measures to reduce the amount of dust kicked up on the roads.
The directions have come after Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar took note of the issue at the committee meeting held last week.
“We have asked the BBMP to rein in the road dust problem. Though construction is going on everywhere and it is the hot and dry season, special care needs to be taken,” Manoj Kumar, KSPCB member secretary told DH.
“Construction works like flyovers and white-topping are going on everywhere. As per procedures, roads around areas where construction is going on should be sprinkled with water at least twice a day to settle the road dust. Besides, the BBMP should also ensure roads are swept, but none of this is happening,” pointed out another KSPCB official.
According to the KSPCB, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Jayanagar, a residential area, on March 5 was 136 and particulate matter (PM 2.5) was 143 parts per milligram (ug/m3). At Nimhans, AQI was 106 and PM 2.5 was 122. As per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the standard PM 2.5 value is 60 ug/m3 for 24 hours. CPCB analysis up to 4 pm on March 6, showed AQI as 116.
Bengalureans are demanding measures to minimise road dust. Commuters can be seen moving around wearing masks. Paediatricians and pulmonologists say patients with respiratory problems and infections have increased.
“Bengaluru is known as the Asthma capital and the number of cases are increasing. It is difficult to put a specific number on the number of patients. But apart from children, the cases of women coming with breathing problems are on the rise. We are advising them to wear masks and change their travel timings,” said Vanitha G, a pulmonologist.
However, Sarfaraz Khan, BBMP joint commissioner, solid waste management, said the civic body is procuring 34 mechanical sweepers. At present, there are eight.
Another BBMP engineer blamed the summer for the water crises.
“Tankers are costly. So, we are unable to water the roads under repair. People will have to cooperate,” he said.