Thursday, June 30

Battle against air-pollution begins with food vendors

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The city is gearing up to battle air pollution this winter. As the battle lines are drawn, the civic body is set to replace the coal-fired oven of food vendors with electric induction oven. Food vendors, according to the source-apportionment study by National Environment and Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), are one of the biggest sources of the city’s air pollution. Besides, sprinklers and mechanical sweepers are also being purchased to take on dust pollution.

Recently, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) commissioner had asked for Rs 2,371.2 lakh from the principal secretary of environment department under the implementation plan for improvement of air quality in Kolkata. The plan included replacement of coal-fired oven (open chullahs) with electric induction oven, installation of fogging/mist machines at select traffic intersections and road stretches to suppress haze especially during winter and procurement of mechanical sweepers and road washers to reduce road dust, the letter from the civic commissioner to the principal secretary, environment department, revealed.

The cost quoted in the letter is only 50% of the total cost of the scheme. The rest 50% will be borne by the vendors.

NEERI’s interim report indicated that coal-burning (30%) is the biggest contributor to PM2.5 pollution in Kolkata. Vehicle comes as the second biggest (26%) source of pollution. Since Kolkata’s winter pollution is driven by PM2.5 — an air pollutant that is a concern for people’s health when levels in air are high — the state has geared up to check the pollution level.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, the city has 30,000 food vendors, who use coal-fired ovens. These food vendors cater to a huge customer base with low-cost food. While 33% of their consumers buy food daily, 23% buy food four days a week from them. Besides these food vendors, there are road-side ironing service providers, who also used these ovens. They will be given electric irons, said an environment department officer.

Besides, the environment department is also planning to give vehicle-mounted water sprinklers to different civic bodies in the Kolkata metropolitan area. The mechanical sweepers will also reduce dust pollution to a great extent. Kolkata Municipal Corporation will also do buffer plantation along the roads.

It was decided that water sprinklers will be deployed in 17 key areas, including Shyambazar five-point crossing, Maa flyover, Sealdah flyover, Park Circus seven-point crossing, surroundings of Victoria Memorial Hall, Taratala crossing, New Alipore Road, Prince Anwar Shah Road and Raja S C Mullick Road. IIT-Kharagpur has also been engaged for a detailed plan to combat burning of methane at Dhapa dumpyard.


Source: Times of India

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