Jaipur air poisoned by oil depot fire: Pollution board

November 9th, 2009 - 4:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 9 (IANS) Air pollution in and around Jaipur was far above maximum permissible limits when the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) depot on the edge of the city was ablaze, but it had no significant effect in Delhi or Agra, the Central POllution Control Board (CPCB) reported Monday.
Almost 60,000 kilolitres of oil in 11 storage tanks went up in flames on the evening of Oct 29 and the blaze raged till Nov 6.

A seven-member CPCB team that rushed to the spot found that on Oct 31, the level of suspended particulate matter (SPM) at the Chokhi Dhani monitoring station on the outskirts of Jaipur was 376 microgrammes per cubic metre of air, while the annual average in a residential area is supposed to be 140, according to CPCB’s ambient air quality standards.

The level of respiratory suspended particulate matter (RSPM) — which is more dangerous as it gets into the lungs — was 268 microgrammes per cubic metre, more than four times the CPCB standard of 60.

On Nov 1, the level of oxides of nitrogen was 63.6 microgrammes per cubic metre, higher than the CPCB standard of 60, the team reported.

The maximum sulphur dioxide level, at 14.5 microgrammes per cubic metre, was the only one within the CPCB standard of 60.

Since Jaipur is part of the Golden Triangle tourist circuit (Delhi-Agra-Jaipur), the CPCB monitored the effect of the fire in Delhi as well as in Agra, specifically on the Taj Mahal.

While the team’s final report is awaited, its interim report says there was no effect of the fire in Delhi or Agra — both just about 200 km from Jaipur — nor in Gurgaon, which is right next to Delhi on the way to Jaipur.

At the capital’s ITO crossing, the highest SPM level during this period was 747 microgrammes per cubic metre, of RSPM 338, of oxides of nitrogen 103 and of sulphur dioxide 17. While these figures are far above the permissible limits, they show no appreciable variance from the days before the fire.

“No changes were observed at Agra (Taj Mahal) even after four days of incessant fire at Jaipur,” the report says.

“The observed data in Delhi does not indicate any impact of the fire on the air quality,” it adds. “Wind direction was observed and reported from South-South West, West-West North and in most cases variable both at Jaipur and Delhi. Jaipur being located South-West of Delhi, on such wind pattern condition, significant impact is not expected in Delhi.”

The Rajasthan government has constituted a five-member high level committee under the chairmanship of the principal secretary, Department of Environment, to assess the environmental impact of the fire.

The state government has also set up a six-member expert committee on the health hazards posed by the blaze. In its interim report, the committee, headed by the principal of the SMS Medical College in Jaipur, has said: “No serious immediate health effect was evident in adjacent areas as the meteorological conditions favoured the dispersion of pollutants… But the very unlikely possibilities of chronic illness need to be monitored.”

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