Patna okay with higher taxes to curb pollution

Patna, Nov 29 (IANS) People in Patna will not mind paying higher taxes if the government decides to take tough measures to combat air pollution, a survey said on Tuesday.

According to a latest survey on air pollution in Patna conducted by the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED), nearly 93 per cent of the respondents are aware of the alarming levels of air pollution in Patna.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) listed Patna as a ‘non-attainment city’ with PM-10 and PM-2.5 levels persistently exceeding national standards.

“A majority of the respondents in the poll also suggested that they are willing to bear higher taxes levied on them provided the Government takes strict actions to combat the menace of air pollution” Ramapati Kumar of CEED said.

The opinion poll on air pollution was conducted in November this year by CEED’s volunteer group, Planet Paltan.

CEED also observed that as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), Patna was the second-most polluted city in India with high levels of concentrated particulate matter, six times more than what is considered safe.

The purpose of the survey was to analyse the current perceptions of air quality in the city and citizens’ willingness to engage in specific air quality protection activities.

“Nine of 10 people who responded the opinion poll across all the sections identified some form of impact because of air pollution where a very high level of worry for breathing difficulty is expressed by 48 per cent of respondents while other concerned for irritation of eyes/nose/throat, poor visibility, asthma incidence, skin problems” he said.

Another key finding is massive support across various section of society for effective and sustainable public transport system with 49 percent people responding in favour of it.

“The Bihar government must work on war footing basis to completely eliminate the problem of air pollution,” Kumar said.

Last year, the Bihar government banned 15-year-old diesel vehicles from Patna’s roads in a bid to control air pollution.

A WHO survey in May 2014 put Patna behind Delhi in terms of severity of air pollution based on particulate matter.