With worst AQI, Kolkata becomes India’s most polluted metro

Surpassing Delhi, Kolkata has become the most polluted metropolitan in India, in last 72 hours, with a ‘very poor’ and ‘hazardous’ Air Quality Index (AQI), reports said.

After national capital, from past 72 hours the Kolkata’s air quality has been deteriorating rapidly, making it country’s most polluted metropolitan city. However, for both Delhi and Kolkata most prominent pollutant remains PM2.5.

According to a report in the Times of India, Kolkata has only one-fourth of vehicles that in Delhi. A comparison of the pollution data at the two stations in Kolkata- Rabindra Bharti University(RBU) and Victoria Memorial Hall- with Ashok Vihar, on the Delhi’s most polluted area, shows that Kolkata’s AQI has been constantly that of the national capital’s.

Reportedly, in Delhi, there are 19 automatic stations to record the air quality index whereas, only two are in Kolkata. Environmentalist claimed that the data station RBU on BT Road is the air quality representative for Kolkata as the one at Victoria memorial hall shows the city’s cleanest air. Meanwhile, the report mentioned that Kolkata’s air quality routinely gets toxic during winter as the temperature traps finer particulate matter

Environmentalists claimed that a heavy air pollution occurred due to the smoke from busted firecrackers during Kali Puja, Diwali and Chhath Puja, which was responsible for such ‘unhealthy’ air quality of the city as the vehicle count in Kolkata is barely a fourth of Delhi.

“We saw how honourable Supreme Court’s order to burst firecrackers during Diwali between 8-10 pm. was devastated in and around Kolkata as police and administration failed to take adequate steps to stop the use of firecrackers after the court given deadline,” a city based environment activist told IBNS.

“Government has to take more action and general people have to follow the court and pollution control board’s guidelines to avoid such hazardous situation in Kolkata in future,” the environmentalist added.

What is Air Quality Index (AQI)?

According to the Air Now, a New York based provider of public national air quality information and real-time AQI conditions for over 400 cities across the United States, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells people how clean or polluted the local air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for them. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. Think of the AQI as a yardstick that runs from 0 to 500. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern.

According to the New York State Department of Health, fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in air are high. PM 2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated. Outdoor PM 2.5 levels are most likely to be elevated on days with little or no wind or air mixing.