The report warned that the problem of air pollution in the northeastern states is steadily increasing and belies the impression of ordinary, pristine blue skies and clean air. The high levels of air pollution from massive motorization, traffic congestion and the use of solid fuels have indicated a public health crisis in the hilly areas and valleys.
Pollution in the northeast needs support under the National Clean Air Program to implement locally appropriate clean air measures and robust air quality monitoring networks for adequate risk assessment, the report suggested.
The study observed that the hourly concentration of nitrogen dioxide in Guwahati and Agartala increased fivefold between 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., while the Nahar lagun of Itanagar rose by about 40% during those hours. All three cities have a morning nitric oxide peak that occurs around 7-8am, but in Guwahati it rises at night due to truck movement around the city. Pollution levels, particularly PM 2.5 on Diwali night, had risen 1 to 3.6 times the average level measured seven nights before Diwali in both Guwahati and Agartala. However, weak and inadequate air quality monitoring and lack of data did not allow for adequate risk assessment, the report said.
“The air quality in the northeast has gradually deteriorated, but this has not attracted enough public attention. In winter, air quality in cities like Guwahati can be almost as poor as it is in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the cities of Uttar. Pradesh. Pollution is also high in smaller cities like Agartala and Kohima, “the report underlined.
The CSE analyzed the data from seven continuous measuring stations for monitoring the air quality, which are distributed over six cities – two stations in Guwahati (Assam) and one station each in Shillong (Meghalaya), Agartala (Tripura), Kohima (Nagaland), Aizawl ( Mizoram) and Naharlagun (Arunachal Pradesh). The report mentioned that despite the establishment of a real-time air quality monitoring system, data quality remained poor.
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