Patna’s severe air quality due to Ganga’s shifting course: Govt study

Ganga has shifted four kilometres away from the city, leaving an exposed bed of sand, which Himalayan winds are blowing into Patna, it says

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Friday 29 November 2019
The Gandhi Setu over the Ganga in Patna. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The Gandhi Setu over the Ganga in Patna. Photo: Wikimedia Commons The Gandhi Setu over the Ganga in Patna. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The shifting of the Ganga river away from Patna as well as biomass burning in the city’s vicinity are responsible for its current poor air quality, a study by the Bihar State Pollution Control Board (BSPCB) has said.

“The main cause of deteriorating air quality in Patna is the Ganga moving away from its banks in the city in the last two decades. The river has shifted four km to the north in a long stretch from Digha to Kalighat and dry sand on the exposed bed is mainly contributing to poor air quality,” BSPCB chairman, Ashok Kumar Ghosh, said.

“Winds blowing from the Himalayas are spreading the Ganga’s dry sand into Patna, thus contributing to the poor air quality,” he added.

Ghosh said there was currently no solution in sight to check the spread of the sand. While its mining had been stopped in Patna, transportation of the sand into the city in exposed vehicles from nearby areas was still going on, he added.

The BSPCB has prepared a plan to create a ‘green zone’ on the dry bed left behind by the Ganga as it has shifted away from Patna that has been increasing year by year as Ganga is continue to shift away from Patna in the last two decades.

The board will plant 117 varieties of trees in this ‘green zone’, taking into consideration, the threat posed by climate change. But this plan has been pending due to a lack of funds.

Besides the Ganga’s shifting course, biomass burning in Patna’s neighbourhood is also contributing to the poor air quality.

“People still burn wood or coal for cooking purposes. They also burn dry leaves and fodder on a large scale in the villages to keep themselves warm them in winter. This contributes to the severe air quality in Patna,” Ghosh said.

Vehicles, construction, brick kilns, diesel generator sets add to the deadly mix.

According to the BSPCB’s website, Patna’s Air Quality Index (AQI) was 430 at 12 pm on November 27, 2019. It was 427 at 3 pm and 425 at 4 pm on the same day. It was 419 on November 26 and 404 on November 25. All these figures are classified as ‘Severe’.

On November 28, it reduced to 395 and was 358 on November 29. These figures mean Patna’s air quality is now ‘Very Poor’ instead of ‘Severe’.

Ghosh said that despite the severe air quality in the city, monitoring was being done by only one station.  

He added that four new ambient air quality monitoring stations would be functional in Patna by the second week of December.

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