PATNA: A state government in the eastern India is urging its employees to ignore vehicle rides and reach their office by cycles or on foot at least once in week, alarmed at the rising level of pollution Patna, the capital of the Bihar state. A recent report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says Patna the second most polluted city in India, after Delhi.
With the overall air pollution level turning quite grave, the state Environment and Forest Department (EFD) in Bihar has shot off letters to the heads of various government departments, seeking their support in helping save environment. Through the letter, all the government employees have been appealed to reduce dependence on vehicles.
The EFD authorities have announced to hold intensive works over the issue to make the government staffs aware about the importance of environment and encourage them to take eco-friendly measures.
“To begin with we are appealing to the government staffs to observe ‘car-bike-free day’ at least once in a week but in the next phase, we will reach out to the common masses requesting them to also join this mission,” Environment and Forest Department secretary Vivek Kumar Singh told the media today.
The EFD initiative has drawn huge support from leaders of all hues. “This is a welcome step which ultimately will reduce pollution and save environment. We indeed will be a part of the initiative,” Bihar’s deputy chief minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav has said.
Energy minister Bijendra Prasad said the idea could indeed work wonders. “This is the need of the hour. I am ready to be a part of the initiative,” said Yadav. Many other ministers such Rajiv Ranjan Singh, water resources minister, Madan Mohan Jha, revenue minister, Shailesh Kumar, rural works minister, Kapildeo Kamat, panchayati raj minister and Anit Devi who heads tourism portfolio too hailed this initiative saying this was the need of the hour.
A recent study titled “Toward Healthy Air for Patna”, released in January this year by the Centre for Environment and Energy Development (CEED) while quoting a the World Health Organisation (WHO) report said “Patna was the second-most polluted city in India with high levels of concentrated particulate matter”, six times more than what is considered safe.
“The exponential rise in air pollution in Patna requires an immediate robust plan to tackle it, and to spread massive awareness on high health risk posed by air pollution. The Bihar government must show strong political will to take immediate action to curb pollution now,” CEED CEO Rampati Kumar told the media recently.
As per the CEED report the wide gap in demand and supply of electricity was one of the major sources of Patna’s bad air quality. It cited increasing number of vehicles as another factor contributing to the bad air quality. According to a latest report, the total number of vehicles in Patna alone is 1.15 million.
CEED has suggested a 15-point programme to control air pollution, which includes implementation of clean energy, usage of clean fuel for cooking, improved transport system, and stringent emission targets for industries.
Last month, the state government banned 15-year-old diesel vehicles from Patna’s roads in view of advisory by the Bihar State Pollution Control Board which said air quality in Patna was “very poor”.
Image Caption: Representational Image