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Ambient Air Pollution in Kolkata

Air Pollution is one of the major concerns of most of the global metros & cities. Ever enhancing
pollution trend, demographic pressure and fast changing life style has resulted the extreme
severity of air pollution in the urban atmosphere. Our city of joy, Kolkata is not an exception.
Though not heavily industry surrounded, Kolkata is suffering from increasing dust contamination
in ambient air. The reason rising automobile & traffic concentration in the city.
The portion of this dust that use to pass through the respiratory duct of human body during
breathing i.e. particles below 2.5 size is often becoming near 100 mg/Nm3 during winter
season. The detrimental effect of this increasing dust contamination is not limited to respiratory
health hazard but also causing secondary effects like global warming, heat island effect,
alternation of local microclimate etc. Last two decades contributed Kolkata a massive change.
Materialistic rush and consumerism made a Tsunami like entrance in the city corridor. The
heritage city which was a product of British rule is suffering from less adequacy of available road
per vehicle. The reason was colonialist & short sited development of the city since the
beginning. The problem got magnified when city dwellers & service persons increased during
last century.
Off let, the situation worsened due to increasing number of public vehicle, less mobility &
consequent traffic congestion, poor traffic management system. This along with substandard
vehicle maintenance, use of green house gas generating fuel, mal-functioning tail pipe emission
standard measurement system & its effective coordination with actual ambient air quality
control, different petrol pumps of the city caused acute automobile emission scenario.
There are some knowledge gap resisting effective policy making like atmospheric stability class,
befitting dispersion model & influence of river Hooghly & effect of moisture variation on
atmospheric dispersion. There was no such field trial data available. In fact, the sampling and
analysis system (High Volume Sampler) incorporated by West Bengal Pollution Control Board is
facing inconvenience in regular operation in heavy traffic situation.
Now immediate reduction in PM2.5 is a must to reduce the health impacts of the citizen. This can
be achieved by the following:

Effective traffic monitoring and management system.

Use of eco-friendly fuel like Clean Natural Gas
Restricted entry of heavy duty tracks to enter the major city arteries
Combination of prudent manual & automatic traffic control system
Entertaining public transport system compared to use of personal vehicles.
Entertaining use of electricity based vehicles compared to fuel run commuters.
Moral policing of the traffic investigators
Construction of new roads, widening of existing roads, development of inline greenery,
cleaning of footpaths
9. Development of cycle-lane & encouraging use of cycle for short distance travel.

However, the actual implementation should be seconded by detail field study & research. A
brain-storming session with presence of academician, industry, transportation department of the
ministry, vehicle makers and traffic managers may be effective to produce a long term strategy.
A seminar/ conference/ technical talk will be instrumental to kick-off this effort.