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‘Government projects polluting Lucknow’

By Sharat Pradhan, IANS,

Lucknow : The Mayawati government is turning a blind eye to the “suffocating” levels of air pollution in the Uttar Pradesh capital, says the chief of an environment body set up by the Supreme Court, while pointing to the large-scale stone-cutting work being undertaken for official projects.

Environmental Protection and Conservation Authority (EPCA) chief Bhure Lal cited “the suffocating atmosphere created on account of such heavy presence of dust particles in the air that could pose serious threat of spreading lung-related diseases like asthma or tuberculosis”.

Citing the stone-cutting work for official projects worth more than Rs.25 billion across the city, he said the respiratory suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in Lucknow’s air has been found to be more than four times the permissible limits.

“As against the laid down upper limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre, it was found to be 475 in and around those parts of Lucknow where a lot of stone-cutting is going on,” Lal told IANS during a visit to Lucknow.

“I have raised this issue at a seminar organised by the Club of Lucknow when I sought to draw the attention of local officials also to the rising levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide in the air in Lucknow,” he said.

A retired IAS officer widely known for his uprightness and high integrity, Lal is the man who succeeded in pushing for CNG-run public transport in Uttar Pradesh’s two top cities – Lucknow and Kanpur – as the fuel is considered environment-friendly.

He was however unhappy about the implementation of CNG conversions here. “It is a matter of concern that not more than 30 percent of public transport vehicles in Lucknow had converted to CNG so far,” he lamented.

Lal also said that official neglect and apathy had led to unabated pollution in the Gomti river in Lucknow.

“I remember going to Egypt where I was told not to forget to take a bottle filled with the water of the Nile; I wish we could do the same for Lucknow’s Gomti, which is full of filth and solid waste,” he said.

“Isn’t it shocking that even as the Gomti receives more than 440 million litres of discharge every day, the sewage treatment plant installed by the government has the capacity to treat only 40 million litres a day?” he asked.

(Sharat Pradhan can be contacted at [email protected])