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Maharashtra records 1,700 gg of PM10 emission each year; windblown road dust largest contributor: Study

Maharashtra witnesses at least 1,700 giga gram of particulate matter (PM10) emissions per year, with wind-blown road dust being the largest source, a study has revealed.

As per a study conducted by an environmental researcher from March 2019 to 2020, wind-blown road dust accounts for 29 per cent of PM10, while residential sector contributed to 22 per cent emission in the state.

Environmental Researcher Dr Saroj Kumar Sahu in his study claimed that Maharashtra had recorded a PM10 emission of 1,700 gg per year, with wind-blown road dust being the largest contributor at 29 per cent in 2019-2020.

Emissions from the transport sector were at 10 per cent, while construction activities accounted for 6.5 per cent, followed by municipal solid waste burning at 5.3 per cent, crop residue burning at 5.7 per cent, among other sources, stated the study conducted by Dr Sahu, an assistant professor at Utkal University in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The study also revealed that industries and thermal power plants were also one of the major contributors to PM10 emission in the state.

Open burning of municipal solid waste has created a new challenge, which readily releases several types of air pollutants into the atmosphere, it stated.

Dr Sahu has been developing national and city-specific emission inventory for various critical air pollutants and greenhouse gases by understanding the role of regional sources and changing policy with time.

“Maharashtra is the country’s most prosperous state and has excelled in the industrial, agricultural, automotive and tourism sectors. It is also the most urbanised state, with more than 50 per cent population living in urban areas and the second-most industrialised with 37,102 industries as of 2020,” Dr Sahu said.

There is a high demand for energy and a corresponding burden of air pollution. At least 26 thermal power plants are spread across the state to consistently meet the energy demand, he said.

The Central government has started the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which has set a time-bound goal to improve air quality across 132 ‘non-attainment’ cities (whose air does not meet the national ambient air quality standards), he said.

Talking about the emission patterns in three non-attainment cities Nagpur, Chandrapur and Amravati in Vidarbha, Dr Sahu said that though missions in Nagpur appear to be highest as compared to Chandrapur and Amravati, the area of the city is significantly higher as compared to the other two places.

The estimated PM emission load in Nagpur was 105 gg per year, while in Chandrapur it is 78 gg per year and Amravati 53 gg, he said.

“The highest source of PM emission in Nagpur are thermal power plants at 34 per cent, followed by windblown road dust at 21 per cent and unorganised other sectors at 16 per cent,” Dr Sahu said.

In unorganised sectors, construction activities account for 9 per cent and municipal solid waste burning 5 per cent, while subsector slum cooking contributes 7 per cent and street vendors 4 per cent to PM emissions, he said.

Chandrapur, which is regarded as one of the most polluted cities in the state, has the highest emission of 46 per cent from thermal power plants, followed by windblown road dust at 21 per cent and residential sector at 11 per cent, he said.

Recently, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has listed Chandrapur as a critically polluted city, for which special attention must be given to improve the air quality Dr Sahu said.

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