Ahmedabad Fights to Breathe as Pollution Levels Rise

Ahmedabad’s AQI was only slightly lower than that of Delhi.

3 min read
The walled city of Ahmedabad covered in smog on Friday, 17 November.

Ahmedabad has joined various north Indian cities in terms of poor air quality, as smog has resulted in a bevy of respiratory ailments across the city. The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation’s Health Department issued an advisory to all citizens earlier this week, instructing them to to be prepared for rising pollution levels and take necessary precautions.

The situation became quite bothersome for Amdavadis as the Air Quality Index (AQI) hit 311 on Wednesday, 15 November. Though lower than Delhi’s AQI of 359, the deteriorating air quality rang alarm bells across the city. The advisory was based on the warnings issued by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research – Air (SAFAR-Air), air monitoring stations in the city.

The AQI for Friday, 17 November, was rated poor at 252 as per SAFAR, which was better than Wednesday. Yet, the air is laden with smog. Though it clears under the blazing afternoon sun, early mornings and late evenings still leave Amdavadis gasping for air.

The AQI of Ahmedabad on Friday, 17 November.
The AQI of Ahmedabad on Friday, 17 November.
(Photo Courtesy: SAFAR-Air app)

On Friday, Chief Secretary JN Singh called an emergency meeting with Ahmedabad Municipal Commisioner Mukesh Kumar to discuss remedies to curb the rising smog level. After shelving the ‘Action Plan for Control of Air Pollution in Ahmedabad’ (APCAPA) for 18 months, the government has pushed for urgent implementation of the plan.

The Air Action plan includes-

1. Expedition of a proposal to convert waste to power at Pirana landfill in the city and finalise it by the end of November. If all goes well, work to set up the power plant will begin by January 2018.

2. Make Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar kerosene free.

3. Increase number of public transport buses and ensure all buses run on CNG.

4. Instruct the Transport Department to cancel registration of commercial vehicles older than 15 years.

5. Provide financial assistance and subsidies for the purchase of commercial electric/CNG vehicles.

6. Enforce a total ban on manufacturing of plastic bags that are less than 50 microns thick.

7. Ban biomass burning and burning of plastic and other waste through public discourse and strict penalty.

8. Wall-to-wall carpeting of roads and build pavements on unpaved roads to avoid accumulation of dust.

Traffic pushes through a thick layer of smog in Ahmedabad.
Traffic pushes through a thick layer of smog in Ahmedabad.
(Photo: The Quint)

The Quint spoke to KC Mistry, Member Secretary, Gujarat Pollution Control Board.

“We control the manufacturing of plastic bags that less than 50 microns thick, but to check whether the shops still use these bags falls under the jurisdiction of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. We have even shut down many units that produce such plastic bags. These bags come from the Daman and we are doing our best to curb it. Besides, this is the winter season; the air hangs low and mixes with the dust particles, which is why we see smog in the mornings. This dust comes from the roads, especially kutcha roads. The sweepers who clean the streets resort to burning garbage as it is helps them dispose garbage quickly,” Mistry said.

Yes, the power plant at Pirana has been delayed. Now that it has been discussed in today’s meeting, we hope that the work on it will be expedited. However, it will take a couple of years at least to build a power plant there.
KC Mistry, Member Secretary, Gujarat Pollution Control Board

The Quint also spoke to Bhavin Solanki, Medical Officer of Health, AMC.

“We have issued advisories to people who suffer from asthma and bronchitis to take care and avoid stepping out unless necessary. As of now, there is no spike in patients flocking to hospitals with breathing problems. For now, with the help of SAFAR app, we can only predict pollution levels for the next day. How long will the smog last is hard to say,” Solanki said.

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