Bengaluru is stuck in traffic, gasps for breath

City Environment

An alarming rise in air pollution, contributed largely by an increasing number of vehicles, has caused Bengaluru to gasp.

Data for 2017 released by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) says Bengaluru’s poor Air Quality index causes “breathing discomfort to the people with lung, heart disease, children and older adults”.

Traffic congestion increases vehicular emission and degrades air quality.

Bengaluru’s PM2.5, recorded at different parts of the city, was calculated at 40 μg/m3, way above the World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline limit of  10 μg/m3 annual mean. PM2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers.

“The levels of PM10/PM 2.5 are attributed to the vehicular emissions/ movement, resuspension of road dust and construction activities,” the KSPCB data said.

Dr Nagappa B, a scientific officer at the KSPCB admitted that the traffic is rapidly growing, but denied that the condition in Bengaluru is critical with respect to air pollution.

“I agree traffic is too much in the city, but Bengaluru’s air quality is moderate and PM level is under control. Bengaluru is in a better state than Kolkata, Mumbai and, of course, Delhi,” he informed The Observer.

According to a study conducted by Urban Emissions, which researches air pollution, traffic in Bengaluru is going out of control, causing pollution levels to cross WHO’s safety limits.

According to the study, “Bangalore’s rapid growth, mostly associated with the growth of the IT industry, has created problems relating to traffic congestion. The unplanned nature of growth in the city boosted the infrastructure and other construction activities in the region, and also resulted in massive traffic gridlocks that the municipality attempted to ease by constructing a flyover system and by imposing one-way traffic systems, which were unable to adequately address the on-road issues and associated increase in air pollution.”

The pollution level is directly proportionate to the size and growth of the city. Disproportionate growth is posing major hazards for Bengaluru, which has expanded beyond its estimated boundaries.

Prof. Kshithij Urs, who teaches public policy at the National Law School of India University, said: “In respect to the national context, Bengaluru is still in a better condition than other cities; but that situation has been worsening in the past 20 years. The city has become one of the fastest two- and four-wheeler selling cities in the country. This reflects a lack of public transport and urban planning.”

A resident of Bengaluru for many years, Urs added: “As the city is not in a condition like Delhi yet, we can use this as an opportunity and improve the condition.”

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