Spring season is highly known as a major time for dust arrival and during this season, dust storms occur at least once.
Earlier, Guwahati witnesses dust particles in air only during the spring season however, this time it is different. Except monsoon season, the city have witnesses dust particles during the entire 2022.
Guwahati is undergoing several construction works for the purpose of development which may not be the sole reason behind the recent rise in pollution but a contributor to it.
The dust particles released from the construction works, be it government or private, are not taken care off due to which the city has witnessed dry season all year long due to which it gets mixed with the air leading air pollution to either poor or very poor.
From February 20 to 24, Guwahati has undergone degradation in Air Quality Index. The following is the data of the AQI of the city:
February 20- Very Poor AQI
February 21- Very Poor AQI
February 22- Poor AQI
February 23- Moderate AQI
February 24- Satisfactory AQI
Although, due to construction several people believe that it is the main and sole reason behind the recent rise in pollution. However, the environmental scientist and doctors beg to differ.
Speaking on this degrading air quality, the Additional Chief Environmental Scientist Cum Government Analyst Manoj Saikia of Pollution Control Board Assam said, “Every year from October-March, Guwahati witness dry season which is normal and every year the condition of air pollution is mostly like this, however, this year the pollution is highly focused due to several constructions, be it government or private, going on in and around Guwahati.”
“The air quality has degraded due to decrease in rainfall which is caused by high amount of carbon monoxide in air which impacts the water cycle. There is at least 76 per cent decrease of rainfall in the region,” he said.
“The burning of plastics has given rise to carbon monoxide which gets mixed in the air which prevents the liquid particles from earth reach the sky and form clouds and precipitate back to the earth in the form of rainfall reducing the dusk particle to certain extend,” Saikia explained.
Saikia further said, “Moreover, the vehicles, coal-based industries release poisonous black carbon which has contributed in the air pollution. No doubt government has taken initiatives to introduce CNG powered city buses, electric vehicles in the city, yet we have miles to go to make our city pollution-free.”
He then added that construction works did have added to the dust particles but for these few steps would have lessen the concern by few extend such as employment of task force to spray water every now and then in and around the construction site would have prevented them from getting mixed in the air.
It is to be noted that the various constructions, both government and private, have resulted in the cutting down of trees. Although government promised to plant more trees to compensate the ones that have been cut down, however, no such afforestation is noticed, instead they cutting more trees for flyover projects. It does not limit to this. In the Jalukbari area, mountains are seen to be cut to broaden the National Highway.
As the number of trees have decreased in the main city and few others places and keeping the population in mind, we are exhaling carbon dioxide more than we are inhaling oxygen.
Recently, at least 25 students were admitted to Guwahati Medical College and Hospital complaining respiratory infections such as Bronchiolitis, Pneumonia, Asthma which raises the question of whether Guwahati is safe for children and senior citizens or not.
On this, Dr Diganta Barman of Paediatric Department said, “Although, the air quality has degraded still we cannot say that it is unsafe for children and senior citizens. The one with respiratory issues only gets infected with such kinds of infections.”
While speaking about the construction works contributing to air pollution, he said, “I don’t feel the construction works is a major contributor to it as construction work is going on not only in Guwahati but also in other cities and states and few are not even witnessing degrading air quality.”
Dr Barman further suggested few measures to prevent ourselves from inhaling the polluted air which are the following:
“We have also urged many to get vaccinated as it may lower the risk of respiratory problems in case contacted with Covid-19,” he added.
To see overall, it is believed that the construction work has highly contributed to degradation of air quality only because at present the works are going on all over the city. Earlier, it didn’t come to focus as the burning of plastics, coal-based industries, among others were mostly ignored by the people. But as of now as the dust particles is being noticed all year round due to construction works, the people believes that it is the major contributor to pollution.