Gearing up

Sri Lanka mulls roadmap to combat air pollution

Published: Friday 15 August 2003

Under the scanner (Credit: US-AEP / Sri Lanka)taking cognisance of the spiralling emission levels, Sri Lanka has recently drafted a national policy which aims to improve the country's air quality. The policy planning division of Sri Lanka's ministry of environment and natural resources has already swung into action, purchasing two gas analysers and one smoke metre for air quality monitoring.

According to the United States-Asia Environmental Partnership Programme, degradation of urban air quality in Sri Lanka is a major cause for concern. The situation in Colombo and other major cities is bleak, primarily due to mobile emissions. The Colombo Metropolitan Area accounts for 60 per cent of all vehicles. With the exception of sulphur dioxide, the transport sector is the biggest contributor of air pollutants.

The United Nations Environment Programme (unep) Regional Resource Centre for Asia -- Pacific-Male Declaration Baseline Information has found that over the past few years the number of vehicles in the capital has increased by an average of 6 per cent annually. The centre also points out that there has been an alarming rise in the use of diesel.

To be sure, the authorities do appear to be taking remedial measures. The government's Gazette notification lists a new fuel quality standard which came into effect from January 1, 2003. Earlier the Clean Air 2000 Action Plan developed in 1992 identified the phasing out of lead as one of the activities. The Ceylon Petroleum Corporation made "unleaded gasoline available island-wide in May 2002". That apart, the environment ministry has devised a clean air 2005 action plan to minimise the country's air pollution to great extent. Notwithstanding these efforts, Sri Lanka still has miles to go.

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