Kochi: Clean air is gradually becoming a thing of the past in Kochi, even as a blanket of dust suffocates the city.
According to the latest statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO), the atmospheric pollution in Kochi is 38 micrograms, which is higher than any other city in the state. The WHO study covered 3,000 cities in the world.
Thiruvananthapuram posted a pollution level of 29 micrograms, while its neighbor, Kollam, recorded 22 micrograms. In Pathanamthitta, the pollution level is 12 micrograms, while Alappuzha and Kozhikode recorded 27 and 30 micrograms, respectively.
Except Pathanamthitta, the pollution level is higher than the national average of 14 micrograms in all the districts. The cities in the state, however, are less polluted than the four Indian metros.
Delhi tops the list of polluted cities with a whopping 122 micrograms, while Mumbai and Bengaluru came second with 63 micrograms. Kolkata and Chennai’s pollution levels were relatively low at 61 and 44 micrograms, respectively.
Threat to tourism
Despite Kochi being comparatively a less polluted city, it doesn’t give much hope to the tourism sector. Factors, including pollution, play a major role in promoting tourism.
Other Indian tourism destinations such as Puducherry and Panaji are less polluted than Kochi. Colombo, which has been vying with Kerala for a larger share of tourism pie in the region, is two points behind the state in terms of pollution.
Atmospheric pollution will be a major factor for tourists in choosing their destinations in future. The pollution level in major cities in the world is below 20 micrograms. According to the WHO study, Pathanamthitta has better standards, with its atmospheric pollution level pegged at 12 micrograms.
BreatheLife is a global campaign the WHO has initiated, in partnership with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to raise awareness about the health risks of short-lived climate pollutants, which contribute significantly to global warming and air pollution. The campaign aims at providing clean air to the world population by 2030.
BreatheLife incorporates the needs and problems of individual cities, and provides solutions accordingly. Besides recommending steps for a healthy life, it also advises individuals on how they could contribute to the noble cause.
Four steps to reduce pollution
Encouraging the public transport system, such as the metro, is one of the means to check air pollution. Banning one-passenger cars from roads will go a long way in reducing pollution. The city should also become pedestrian-friendly, besides encouraging citizens to use bicycles. City vehicles should be powered by less polluting fuel.
2. Industrial pollution
Cities should have effective and adequate mechanisms to manage pollutants, including chemical wastes, from industries. Emissions from industries hanging in the atmosphere pollute the air. Cities should have better management and stringent monitoring mechanisms to prevent industrial emissions from reaching the atmosphere. Installing coke-ovens that convert carbon waste from industries into sources of energy could be one such mechanism.
3. Domestic pollution
The clean atmosphere drive should begin at individual homes. Domestic waste affects health more than the pollution outside. Burning of firewood is one example. Reducing the use of carbon-emitting equipment, and using solar-powered gadgets, including electric bulbs, would help in checking pollution. Energy efficient stoves and less polluting fuel, too, would help in having a clean and healthy atmosphere. Incinerating waste in an unscientific manner, too, contribute to polluting the atmosphere.
4. Sources of energy
Use of common fuel, such as oil and gas, contribute to 25 percent of methane emission in the world. Tapping solar energy would help in containing pollution to a great extent. Including electric vehicles as part of city’s public transport system, too, would lead to healthy living.