Jammu's air quality is not as good as you think

JAMMU: We daily talk about the rising air pollution levels in Delhi-NCR and forget about our own Jammu city, which is also gradually joining the band wagon. The sources from State Pollution Control Board warn that deadly air pollutants in Jammu are higher than the permissible limits.

The ambient air quality is measured at three places in Jammu - Narwal, Bari Brahmana (industrial), and MAM Stadium, and the data from these stations shows that air pollution is constantly hitting dangerous levels in the region. Even on better air quality days, the pollutant levels are higher than levels considered safe. The local people seem to be unaware of the air quality index in their city.

For instance, on 19th October 2017, RSPM (Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter), one of the deadliest pollutants, shot to 290.4 micrograms per cubic metre (mpcm), in MAM Stadium area - which is more than double the permissible limit of 100. On 23rd May 2018, RSPM hit another high of 378 mpcm in Narwal.

SPM (Suspended Particulate Matter) was recorded at 448 mpcm on 19th October 2017 in MAM Stadium area, against the permissible limit of 200. Refusing to come down, it was recorded at its highest till date, 456 mpcm, on 23rd May 2018, in Narwal.

The tiny air pollutants like RSPM and PM 10, in a matter of seconds, enter in our blood and can cause severe damage to lungs and other organs, in some cases, leading to death.

National Green Tribunal (NGT), in October 2018, had asked the State Government to prepare an action plan within two months to bring air quality indices within the prescribed limits, since it did not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards notified under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

The graph shows RSPM levels above permissible limits in Jammu's three stations, in the month of October 2018. The permissible limits for Narwal and MAM Stadium residential area RSPM is 100, and 150 for Bari Brahmana industrial area.


The graph shows SPM levels above permissible limits in Jammu's three stations, in the month of October 2018. The permissible limit is 200.


The graph shows PM 2.5 levels in Jammu's three stations, in the month of October 2018. The permissible limit is 60.


A website ‘weatherbug' shows the LOW air quality index for Jammu, based on their system of evaluation.


Another website ‘numbeo' compares the air quality of Jammu and Delhi-NCR, pointing out the VERY HIGH level of pollution in Jammu.

The State Pollution Control Board is obliged to upload the air quality status regularly on its website. While the yardsticks used by the abovementioned websites for monitoring air quality might be doubtful, the state does not have a real-time air quality monitoring system.

The alarming levels of air pollution in Jammu were pointed out by World Health Organisation (WHO) report few months ago, which was rejected by the State and Union Government.

Jammu is a small city, on its way to become a smart city, teeming with buildings, industries, vehicles and people. The air, here, is polluted mostly by vehicular exhaust, industrial emissions, construction material, and various other factors which largely go unchecked.

It is high time that the State Government and people of Jammu realize the seriousness of the issue and come forward to curb air pollution before it worsens.

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Harry Walia