Uttar Pradesh : After Delhi, thick smog descends over Lucknow

Lucknow, Nov 8 : The air quality in the Uttar Pradesh capital and nearby areas was said to be “alarmingly bad” and polluted for a second straight day on Monday, officials said.

According to a study by the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (IITR), Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and UP Pollution Control Board, the air quality index of Lucknow was eight times poisonous than the permissible limit.

IITR Director Alok Dhawan said the city’s air quality was in bad shape and the situation warranted immediate and urgent attention. People need to be careful of the bad air, he added.

The air quality index, if it crosses 50, becomes hazardous for human health. It stood at 440 in Lucknow on Monday. The visibility through the day was bad as a thick smog hung in the air.

The air quality index was particularly worse in areas like Nishatganj, Aliganj, Old High Court premises near Qaiserbagh and Lalbagh.

As the smog became thick in the evening, people preferred staying indoors.

Official sources say the Lucknow district administration was contemplating declaring closing schools, as in Delhi, if the situation did not improve in the next 24 hours.

The Lucknow Nagar Nigam has announced a fine on burning garbage in the open whereas the Traffic Department has cracked down on polluting vehicles.

“The situation is very dangerous and we are monitoring it very closely,” a senior local municipal official of Lucknow told IANS.

The delayed and knee-jerk reaction of officials, however, seemed a case of too little, too late as the air quality deteriorated to 466 on the Air Quality Index (AQI), a jump of 22 points in the last 24 hours.

The AQI was 444 on Sunday, 466 on Monday and an alarming 659 on Monday-Tuesday night.

Officials and experts say the biggest worry in Lucknow was the fact that for the first time PM1 — one micron thick pollutant — was detected in the air. According to environment monitoring unit of the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, it was a dangerous sign.

Local municipal officials blamed burning of garbage at the dumping site in Barikalan for the smog problem in Lucknow. Officials are mulling a proposal to shut down this garbage dump temporarily.