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Guwahati & Agartala listed top in pollution index of NE

The high level of air pollution generated from massive motorisation, traffic congestion and use of solid fuels has indicated a concern of public health crisis in the hilly terrains and valleys.

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Agartala: Yet no industry, Guwahati and Agartala have been listed at the top of air pollution index in north-eastern cities followed by Kohima and Aizawl in the latest report of Delhi based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
The report warned that the problem of air pollution is growing steadily in north-eastern states, putting paid to the impression of usual pristine blue skies and clean air. The high level of air pollution generated from massive motorisation, traffic congestion and use of solid fuels has 
indicated a concern of public health crisis in the hilly terrains and valleys.

The pollution in the northeast needs support under the National Clean Air Programme to implement locally appropriate clean air action and robust air quality monitoring networks for proper risk assessment, the report suggested.

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The study observed that hourly concentration of nitrogen dioxide in Guwahati and Agartala increases five-fold between 1 PM and 6 PM while the increase noticed about 40 percent in Naharlagun of Itanagar during these hours. All three cities have a morning nitrogen oxides peak which happens around 7-8 AM but in Guwahati, it increases at night due to truck movement in the city.

The pollution levels especially PM 2.5 level on Diwali night had shot up by 1 to 3.6 times the average level recorded seven nights preceding Diwali in both Guwahati and Agartala. 

However, weak and inadequate air quality monitoring and paucity of data didn’t allow proper assessment of risk, the report mentioned.
“The air quality in Northeast has gradually been worsening but this has not drawn adequate public attention. In winter, air quality of cities like Guwahati can be almost as bad as what we see in the National Capital Region (NCR) and cities of Uttar Pradesh. Pollution is also high in 
smaller cities like Agartala and Kohima,” the report underlined.

The CSE analysed the data of seven continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations spread across six cities – two stations in Guwahati (Assam) and one station each in Shillong (Meghalaya), Agartala (Tripura), Kohima (Nagaland), Aizawl (Mizoram) and Naharlagun 
(Arunachal Pradesh).

The report mentioned that despite the setting up of a real-time air quality monitoring system, data quality remained poor. Historically pollution monitoring in Northeast has been poor due to hilly terrain and limited infrastructure, however, after introduction of automated monitoring in the region by Central Pollution Control Board recently the region came under the monitoring scan.

This year, so far, the number of days with air quality in ‘very poor’ or ‘severe’ categories stands at 54 days in Guwahati, which is comparable to the cities of North India. Agartala registered 10 ‘very poor’ days, while Kohima had two. However, air quality charts for Shillong, Aizawl and Naharlagun could not be made as these cities do not have enough data.

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