The World Health Organisation report ranking Srinagar as the tenth most polluted city in the world has no legs to stand on, says the State Pollution Control Board.
The WHO report received mixed response on social media in Kashmir. While some quoted it to pin down the government, others dismissed it as implausible.Second, the Board has questioned the WHO methodology itself. The WHO report says between 2010 and 2016, Srinagar air averaged 113 µg/m3 PM 2.5 (particulate matter of diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometres, which is around 3 per cent the diameter of a human hair), the key pollution indicator. The PM 2.5 is not only inhalable but can get into the blood stream. It is a great health concern due its association with respiratory and many other diseases. Hussain, however, says that it started monitoring the PM 2.5 only from July 2017.Hussain said the Board was equipped to measure only PM 10 levels before July 2017.He said PM 2.5 was being measured “twice a week, every week, throughout the year” in Srinagar now, reducing the chances of error in data to “almost zero”. “It does not take a genius to find the gross error (in WHO report) in placing Srinagar and Delhi in the same list in terms of air pollution,” he said.
The locations in Srinagar chosen by the SPCB for air quality monitoring include residential areas, commercial area, semi-commercial area and tourist area: Rajbagh, Hyderpora, Jahangir Chowk, Soura and Boulevard.
“The Board applies a very robust sampling methodology and intensity. As per the Board, the levels of PM 2.5 are within the permissible limit of 60 µg/m3 (for 24 hours),” the statement by the Board said.
The Board also said WHO’s sampling methodology and sampling intensity/frequency and location are not known to it.
“Air quality of Srinagar city is far better than as depicted in the WHO report and there is no cause of alarm or distress,” the Board said.The WHO report on Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution Database had included 14 Indian cities in its most-polluted cities list, with Srinagar at number 10. The WHO states that deterioration of urban air quality increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases and asthma.