Residents of Whitefield are reeling under extremely high air pollution levels. The air quality index (AQI) is as high as ten times the normal limit in some areas of Whitefield and three times the safe level in Information Technology Park Limited (ITPL), the hub of IT companies. The situation is so bad that many of the residents or employees, while trying to breathe while travelling by road, complain of almost being asphyxiated – being deprived of air, causing them to feel faint.
According to Central government norms the normal AQI for healthy breathing should be below 50.
The AQI is a number used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air is, or how polluted it is forecast to become. As the AQI increases, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience severe adverse health effects. The AQI was last recorded by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) in October end in ITPL area, where the AQI was found to be 147 against the normal level of 50 – almost three times the safe limit. Recently, lakhs of residents of Doddanekundi (Ward 85) and Garucharcharpalaya (Ward 82) in Whitefield faced the worst nightmare as AQI in the area went up to a whopping 500 – ten times the safe limit.
These recordings were taken by the residents of the area with help of digital meters as no record was available on the KSPCB website.
Clement Jaykumar, a resident of Fern City, told media, “Vehicular pollution has been common in the area, especially around the Graphite Factory Junction. To top this, garbage burning in the open has only aggravated the problem; and there are times when one can smell the soot emanating from these garbage dumps.”
Earlier, a dump near Alpine Residency Road was notorious for garbage burning, but after intervention from the resident of the area and members of the group, Whitefield Rising, this menace at that spot was arrested. But the problem only became worse as now the garbage is being set afire at different places to escape detection and this has added to the misery of the residents.
Sudhansu Mohanty, a resident of the area said, “It was like an emergency situation due to severe air pollution being caused by burning of bushes and cow dung at a goshala behind Fern City and burning of garbage at different places. Thanks to the rain due to cyclone Nada, things are bit normal at the moment, but earlier, many people complained of wheezing due to poor air they were breathing.”
The worst-hit are children and elders. However, after the intervention of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike and the efforts of the president of the goshala, the burning of bushes and cow dung has been reduced, but garbage continues to be burnt all over the area in the absence of any check on it.
Yamini Chandrashekaran, a resident of fern city said, “The goshala is right behind my apartment complex and the smoke from the burning cow dung enters my house. It took me three days to get rid of the smell. The worst was to watch my daughters suffer from heavy breathing due to the poor air quality. Even I had severe respiratory distress as it was difficult breathing the pollutants-filled air.”
The situation has now aggravated as winter is setting in. Due to mist hanging close to the ground, the smoke does not easily escape into the atmosphere. Due to that it spreads horizontally over an area of more than 3 km, in turn causing respiratory distress among the local residents and employees.
“Now due to rains, things are little better; but at times I have seen AQI in the area going up to 500. The recording is being taken on a digital meter that I have, and the highest reading it could take is 500, so it is hard to say if the AQI was worse than that or not. Garbage burning is almost a routine affair in Whitefield and the BBMP has failed to address the issue garbage disposal in the area,” added Clement.
Credits Bangalore Mirror