Guwahati, Tuesday, September 15, 2009
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Dust pollution posing health hazards in city
Staff reporter
 GUWAHATI, Sept 14 - Growing dust pollution is posing a serious health hazard to the citizens of Guwahati. The dust, together with vehicular emissions, forms a toxic haze that looms over the atmosphere for a prolonged period. matter (RPM) in the air has been found to be high in the city, sometimes crossing the permissible limits. The permissible limits for SPM and RPM are 200 micrograms per metre cubic and 100 micrograms per metre cubic respectively.

“Dust pollution normally shows an increasing trend during the winter as there is less rainfall to clean the atmosphere. From our ambient air quality checks, the period from November to March shows a greater presence of SPM and RPM in the air,” an official of the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) said.

A major reason behind the increasing dust pollution relates to the erosion of loose soil from the hills surrounding the city thanks to deforestation and earth-cutting. Rains invariably wash down the topsoil and deposit it on the roads besides clogging the drains.

The MRD Road near Chandmari best illustrates this phenomenon. A single burst of shower is enough to inundate the road and once the waterlogging subsides, it leaves a deep layer of slush which ultimately turns into dust after a day or two.

This apart, the haphazard urbanisation process that cares little about maintaining even the basic norms of checking dust pollution during construction is another factor aggravating the situation. The public had to endure a harrowing time during the construction of all the flyovers in the city in the past few years with serious dust pollution affecting the construction sites as well as the nearby areas. Dumping of construction materials including sand, stones, cement, in the open without adequate cover is typical of any construction activity in the city. The ongoing boom in real estate in the city has pushed the dust pollution to alarming levels.

Carrying of materials such as earth, sand, stone, etc., in ramshackle trucks without any cover is a routine affair in the city, which is also contributing to the rising pollution levels.