At 6 p.m. on Friday, the real time air quality index recorded in three centres in and around the city showed the level of prominent pollutant or PM2.5 in the air as much above safe levels. The AQI at Victoria Memorial in south Kolkata was recorded at 210, while the one at Rabindra Bharati University in south Kolkata was recorded at 255. The most alarming level was recorded at Ghusuri in Kolkata’s adjacent Howrah district at 296.
According to environment activist, Somendra Mohon Ghosh, who maintains a regular record of the real-time air quality index in different centers, just ten days back the average level was extremely satisfactory at around 40. “The Sitrang effects were a blessings in disguise, which I think made the administration over-confident. But I cautioned the state government that the comfortable situation might deteriorate further unless prompt actions are taken,” he said.
He also said that since the pollutants are at a low height, breathing discomfort is inevitable for those who are exposed to such pollution for prolonged periods. “The most vulnerable are the traffic police personnel and the roadside hawkers,” Ghosh added.
On the night of Kali Puja on October 24, the pollution level in Kolkata came down to a record low of 40 years. Experts attributed this achievement to the windy weather and continuous drizzles in the city throughout Monday night because of the Cyclone Sitrang impact and bright sunny morning next day as the two reasons for this record achievement for the city.
When the pollution level in New Delhi on October 24 night was hovering around 340 microgrammes per cubic metre, the same was roughly around 40 microgrammes per cubic meter in Kolkata during the same period.
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