"In Jaipur city, there are no major air polluting industrial units. Most are small-scale textile units and cause water pollution, not air pollution. The main culprit of air pollution is vehicles," says Rajesh Thakuria, regional officer, rpcb. According to Balakant Sharma, statistical officer at the transport office in Jaipur, the vehicular population in the capital of Rajasthan has increased six times between 1980-81 and 1998-99 - from 81,267 to 544,556. As much as 78 per cent of the vehicles in the city today are two-wheelers.
Jaipur accounts for over 25 per cent of the total vehicles and the pollution load in the state, according to the rpcb's 1996-97 annual report. The total pollution load on account of vehicular pollution is estimated to be around 280 tonnes per day in Jaipur, the report says. According to cpcb data, the maximum spm level recorded in the city in 1997 was almost three times the permissible limit, with the maximum level of nox exceeding the permissible limit at 108 g/cum.
But according to a random assessment of air quality at49locations in Jaipur by rpcb in February and March 1997, the maximum level was an unbelievable 3,111 g/cum in a commercial area. Even the minimum level recorded at this location was 239 g/cum. Another interesting fact revealed in this assessment was that the levels of nox and so2 dropped on Sundays, when vehicular traffic is lower than on weekdays.
In 1992-93 and 1993-94, rpcb carried out an extensive vehicular monitoring programme at various points in Jaipur. The result showed that emissions from 30 per cent ofpetrol-driven vehicles exceeded the permissible limits, while the figure was 90 per cent for diesel-driven vehicles.
"One of the main culprits used to be the Vikram," says Sharma. The Jaipur high court banned Vikrams in 1996, he points out. "Now the air pollution scenario is a lot better in Jaipur city, but the problem is that most of these banned Vikrams are now plying on rural and semi-urban routes. So it is just a case of shifting the venue of pollution," he explains.
"Rajasthan should not have the same standards as elsewhere for judging air pollution levels. The background level of spm itself is very high because of the sandy soil here. In summer, particularly, the wind blows the sand into the air, increasing the spm level," says S K Shukla, law officer, rpcb. These factors should be taken into account while prescribing limits, he emphasises. However, A S Bhargava, member secretary, rpcb, disagrees. "The background levels have nothing to do with the standards. It does not interfere with the monitoring at all," he says. Perhaps it is too much to hope that officials who cannot even agree with each other will effectively control air pollution.
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