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Cubbon Park loses beauty as lakes get filled up with algae

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By: Meghna Das Chowdhury

The lake inside Cubbon Park, which used to attract a lot of visitors is now under threat because of its poor condition. Due to the huge amount of waste and sewage accumulation, the entire lake has turned into an algae lake. The Cubbon Park authorities have started to clean up the lake.

The lake which is near the tall bamboo plants at Cubbon Park has turned down to a miserable condition as the entire water body has turned into an algae lake which is only green in color. Visitors say that they have often seen people throwing garbage at it and the lake was not properly maintained. This might be the reason for the lake turning out to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the formation of algae.

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“I have visited Cubbon Park earlier and every time I see this lake, I see garbage items like plastic cups, chips packet floating on its surface. The lake is not cleaned regularly,” Sombrita Dutta, a regular visitor of the park informed.

The matter is taken up by the Horticulture Department and they have joined hands with the Cubbon Park authorities to clean up the lake and prevent it from getting polluted again. An official from the Horticulture Department informed, “We plan to clean up the lake as soon as possible and the work has already started. We have got contractors, who would clean up the lake as well as clear out the dried bamboo plants. Once it is done, we will try to not make the lake polluted again.”

According to an article by Deccan Chronicle published in 2014, “Visitors going to Cubbon Park can soon revel in a breath-taking view of the lakes during their stroll at the park. The Horticulture department has joined hands with various agencies like B.PAC, Bangalore Cares, and other organizations to revive the dried-up lakes inside the park. Plans are afoot to rejuvenate the three existing lakes in Cubbon Park premises before the next monsoon.”

Workers are found working on the lake to clear out the algae and throw out the garbage from the lake. Anil Kumar, one of the contractor workers informed, “We are trying to clean up the lake as soon as possible. There is a lot of algae formation in the lake. It will take time until we finally get to see the clear water. The water smells bad too. It has become the breeding ground for mosquitoes.”

Megha Singh, a visitor to the park said, “The beauty of the lake is lost. It is looking miserable and the lake is not giving cold winds like it earlier used to give. If people be so ignorant and keep throwing garbage into the lakes, then they should not be allowed to enter the park. They spoil the beauty.”

The water has started to dry up. The number of algae present in the lake clearly indicates that it is quite possible no marine animal living beneath the water will be having access to oxygen. The leaves from in and around the trees also fall into the lake and make it look more filled.

Environmentalist Akshay Heblikar, Director of Eco-Watch, when asked to comment on the situation, informed The Observer, “The problem with all these lakes and lakes in the urban areas is that, people are not really dependent on it as a source of water. As a result, they don’t think twice before polluting them. They don’t think before pouring the sewage to the lakes and lakes. In the rural areas people depend on these water bodies for various reasons, as a result, they try not to pollute it.

“The algae formed on these lakes not only makes the water polluted but also affects the marine animal living underneath it. It is killing them. Moreover, one cannot consume the fish that belongs to a very dirty algae-filled lake or lake. If anyone does, then he is ought to meet some disease.”

According to the GOVERNMENT OF INDIA – MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT, FOREST AND CLIMATE CHANGE, “In order to conserve wetlands and lakes in an integrated manner, all the States/ Union Territories have been advised for giving high priority for the constitution of State wetland/ lake authorities, identification and notification of priority wetlands…”

“Bangalore had some 1000 lakes. It was known as the garden city. Due to the cool breeze blowing over the lakes, the climate of the city always remained moderate. But now, due to the increasing population, people have started encroaching into lakes and lakes. Tonnes of waste is created every day and most of it is received by the water bodies,” said Akshay Heblikar.

Despite the ban, autos with 2-stroke engines still running on the roads

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By: Meghna Chowdhury

Though the Central government proposes to ban two-stroke engines, autorickshaws and motorcycles fitted with these engines continue to ply in various parts of the country, especially Karnataka. Autorickshaw drivers say they are unaware of the proposed ban and the pollution caused by two-stroke engines.

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Two-stroke engines produce a lot of pollution, it is harmful to the environment and the way the engine is designed that part of the air/fuel leaks out of the chamber through the exhaust port, which is why you see a small thin film, or sheen, of oil around any two-stroke outboard motor, and this leaking oil is a real mess for the environment. This is the reason why the Central Government decided to ban them. Moreover, two-stroke engines use a lot of fuel. Nagaraj Kumar, the driver of an autorickshaw with a two-stroke engine, informed The Observer: “I am not aware whether it is banned or not. I use it as it is in good condition.” But he added, “I often have to go a garage and find it difficult to get parts for the two-stroke engine. They are not available in a lot of places.” “After this engine gives up, I have to buy a four-stroke autorickshaw,” driver Kiran from Bengaluru, said.

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Two-stroke engines require only two piston movements in order to generate power. Studies have found out that two-stroke engines generate a lot of smoke and increase air pollution. The smoke they emit is four times more hazardous than that generated by four-stroke engines.

Autorickshaws with two-stroke engines emit a lot of smoke that is black in color and smell of burning fuel. Balaji R, who runs an autorickshaw with a two-stroke engine, said it emits a pungent smell and smoke, and he has to take the vehicle to a garage to have its engine cleaned.

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M.S. Prakash, an assistant sub-inspector at the Karnataka traffic police headquarters, said: “In new autorickshaws that are being manufactured, no two-stroke engines are being used. The vehicles with two-stroke engines out there are the last ones remaining. The new autorickshaws have four-stroke engines. It is the same case with bikes and cars.”

According to an article that appeared in The Hindu: “As the pollution levels are increasing, the Transport Department has decided to ban two-stroke autorickshaws in the city from April 1, 2018.” But the government extended the deadline to 2020 on realizing that more than 30,000 autorickshaws would be affected by the proposed ban.

Hardly any two-stroke engines are available in the market. “The number of autorickshaws with two-stroke engines is coming down slowly. Therefore, we expect that soon no two-stroke engines will be out there on the roads,” an official with the Koramangala RTO, said.

Dr. H.S. Lokeshwari, chief scientific officer of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board, said: “It would be a very good idea if the Karnataka government banned two-stroke engines totally. The amount of smoke and poisonous gases coming out from a two-stroke engine is much more compared to that from a four-stroke engine. Two-stroke engines also create a lot of noise pollution. The ban is still a plan in action, and it is a proposed ban.”

According to the Indian Environmental Portal, there is a high level of hydrocarbons in the smoke produced by two-stroke engines. Dr. Sateesh V., an associate professor at the Rajarajeshwari College of Engineering and an expert in automobile engineering, said: “It would be a good idea to ban something that creates so much pollution. But if you can work on the two-stroke engine and make it less polluting, even that is a good idea.”

Sateesh and his students are working on a project to operate a four-stroke diesel engine using vegetable oils, along with petrol or diesel. He said it would create less pollution. Dr. Lokeshwari said: “The central government is proposing a ban on BS-IV engines used in cars and implementing the use of BS-VI engines as they create less pollution and only good-quality fuel can be used in them.”

An article in the Deccan Herald said: “About two and a half years ago, the transport department had made it clear that two-stroke engine autorickshaws emit a lot of smoke. Hence, it was made mandatory for all new autorickshaws to run on LPG, or to have four-stroke engines, to bring down emission levels and to phase out the two-stroke engine autos simultaneously…. But these autorickshaws continue to ply on the roads.” It is still expected to be completely phased out by ’20

Baghpat, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, is India’s most polluted

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By: Talat Mohsin

A small town in the state of Uttar Pradesh, named Baghpat has recorded the worst Air Quality Index in India, making it the most polluted area of India. Baghpat is located around 55 km from the National capital Delhi.

The Central Pollution Control Board had recorded Baghpat’s AQI at a staggering 500- the maximum possible reading from government monitors. The small town has been covered with a thick layer of smog, making it impossible for the local residents to even breath outside. In the wake of such hazardous circumstances, the DM of the town, Shakuntala Gautam has announced that all schools will be closed till 5th November.

As reported yesterday, six of the most polluted in the top ten were towns of Uttar Pradesh. Apart from Baghpat, they also included the names of Hapur, Bulandshahr, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad. They all had an AQI rated severe.

Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath held a meeting regarding pollution in the state but no details of the meeting were provided to the press. Excessive pollution is being tackled by sprinkling water in the town’s. Farmers accused of burning crops are also being fined in the state.

Odd-Even rule back in Delhi for winters

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By: Talat Mohsin

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced that the odd-even rule will be implemented in Delhi from 4th November to 15th November. The scheme is a part of the seven-point “Parali Pradushan” action that will be implemented in the state to curb pollution.

During the scheme, the vehicles will ply on the roads in odd-even numbers according to their registration numbers. While announcing the scheme, Mr. Kejriwal said-“ Studies have shown that Odd-Even has led to a reduction in pollution by 10 to 13 percent. Pollution is at its peak during this period due to stubble burning and Diwali firecrackers. The detail of its implementations and the exemptions will be announced in a few days.”

The scheme is a flagship of the AAP and was first implemented in the capital from January 1 st and 15th in 2016 and then from April 15-30. The penalty was announced to be ₹2000 and two-wheelers, women-driven vehicles, emergency, and police vehicles remained exempt.

The Parali Pradushan action plan also includes other components such as free distribution of N-95 masks, sprinkling of water, mechanical sweeping, free distribution of tree sampling and special plans for 12 pollution hotspots in the city.

National Ganga Council has not met once since Modi took charge

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In 2014, Modi’s BJP strongly campaigned for the cleaning of the river Ganga. When they ascend to the power, they allocated huge funds for the cleaning of Ganga. Namami Gange was the name given to the project. It was an utter failure. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), only one out of 39 locations through which the Ganga river flows had clean water in the post-monsoon period this year. In the recent revelation, an RTI by The Wire states that there has not been even a single meeting of the National Ganga Council (NGC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi thus far. Is our government really serious about Ganga?

The NGC was formed in October 2016. Its purpose is to preserve, protect and manage the Ganga river waters. On October 7, 2016, a notification issued by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation stated that the NGC should hold one or more meetings every year, at its discretion.

However, information obtained from the National Clean Ganga Mission, an organisation under the water ministry, has revealed that more than two years since its formation, the NGC has not held a single meeting. The NGC is perhaps the largest committee overseeing work being done towards cleaning the Ganga.

With the formation of the NGC, the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) was dissolved. The functioning of the NGRBA was similar to the NGC, and the prime minister was the chairman of the NGRBA as well.

The NGRBA was formed after the Congress-led UPA government came to power in 2009. Its first meeting was held on October 5, 2009, under the chairmanship of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

From 2009 to 2012, there were three meetings of the NGRBA which Manmohan Singh presided over. After this, there were three meetings between 2014 and 2016, out of which two meetings were presided over by then water minister Uma Bharti. The March 26, 2015 meeting of the Authority was chaired by Modi.

Modi ji used to blame the previous governments about the ill health of the river. (Read here) They might be as Ganga wasn’t polluted in his tenure. But the point is that he promised people and he failed to deliver. Results though do not matter but zero efforts wasn’t expected.

The condition of Ganga is pathetic. Despite this, the committee is not meeting once. The government is just ‘allocating funds’ in order to show people that they care. Not holding a single meeting, hardly any improvement in the pollution level tells a totally different story. And that story is not what our Prime Minister wants us to know.

India has the most polluted air

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The recent data released by IQAir AirVisual and Greenpeace shows that seven out of top ten polluted cities in the world in 2018 are from India. Gurugram is the most polluted city. The rest three places went to Pakistan and Chinese cities, thus, making South Asia the most polluted region in the world.

Image source: BloombergThe index measures the presence of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5, a pollutant that can fester deep in the lungs and bloodstream of human beings.
India, the world’s fastest-growing major economy, makes up 22 of the top 30 most polluted cities, with five in China, two in Pakistan and one in Bangladesh. India racks up health-care costs and productivity losses from pollution of as much as 8.5 percent of gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.

The deteriorating condition of air quality in Delhi is well known. The smog near the Diwali period was like a silver lining for the air purifier companies. Also, a survey on NCR residents tells that 35% of the residents responded want to leave it forever. The result also showed the same as out of 7 cities, 4 are from NCR.

The reason for the pollution are many. Burning of stubble, wind direction, stagnant air, etc are the reasons apart from the obvious ones. In order to improve the quality of air, not only Delhites, but everyone living near the capital should take the responsibility. China did and so can we.

Ganga clean at only one out of 39 location it flows through questions the Namami Gange Programme.

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Cleaning Ganga was one of the reason why people chose BJP in 2014. They reacted well and launched Namami Gange Program in the Budget 2014. Under this program, the Government sanctioned more than Rs. 2000 crores in order to clean the river. The recent survey by CPCB reveals the ineffectiveness of the program.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), only one out of 39 locations through which the Ganga river flows had clean water in the post-monsoon period this year. 37 of the 41 locations reported moderate to severe water pollution in the pre-monsoon period this year. These facts are based on the ‘Biological Water Quality Assessment of the River Ganga (2017-18)’ report which was recently made public by the CPCB in compliance with a Supreme Court direction.

There are 5 water quality classes – Clean (A), Slight Pollution (B), Moderate Pollution (C), Heavy Pollution (D) and Severe Pollution (E). Only 4 locations are under A or B classes during the pre-monsoon period. These numbers change after monsoon and at only one location, Haridwar, the river is ‘clean’.

River Pandu and River Varuna the culprits

According to the report, 34 areas showed moderate pollution in the river while three areas recorded severe pollution in the pre-monsoon period in 2017-18. The major reason, according to the report, was assimilation of River Pandu and River Varuna into the mainstream. These rivers carry pollution loads with them and the mainstream Ganga becomes severely polluted. In another study titled Comparison of Biological Water Quality of River Ganga (2014-18), it was found that Ramganga and Garra river are the culprits.

“On mainstream of River Ganga, although none of the locations was found to be severely polluted most are in moderate pollution range,” the study said. As many as 37 of the 41 locations through which the river flows, reported moderate to severe pollution in the pre-monsoon period this year, it said.

Failure of Namami Gange?

Well, it is not a question actually. It is quite obvious from the results. The water quality remain stagnant at most of the locations in the past four years. At some locations, Jagjeetpur in Uttarakhand and Kanpur, Prayagraj and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the quality deteriorated further from 2014-15 levels.

In 2017-18, water quality at Haridwar Barrage was cleanest during both pre-and post-monsoon period while it was reported to be severely polluted at different monitoring locations in Kanpur and Varanasi during the pre-monsoon phase, it said.

“Efforts must be made to control the pollution so that all locations may comply with at least ‘B’ class water quality,” the study said. Class B water quality means the river must be rejuvenated to support aquatic life.

35% of NCR residents want to quit NCR

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The pollution levels are alarming in Delhi. The night after Diwali was smoggy with Air Quality Index greater than 500. The residents had a premonition about the future months before Diwali. That’s why they invested heavily on Air-purifiers and masks. A new survey results pops up, which shows that 35% of the respondents want to leave NCR as soon as possible. 

A poll conducted by social-media based organization – LocalCircles – stated these findings. The poll was conducted in Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and Faridabad. 12,000 citizens participated in the poll. 

Among them, 35% want to permanently leave NCR while 26% can manage with proper Air-purifiers installed in their homes and offices. 12% want to leave NCR during ‘high pollution’ period only. 

When asked about the affect of pollution on them, 57% said that they observed health issues but didn’t visit the doctor till then. 23% said that at least one of their family member has visited the doctor while 7% suffer from serious and hospitalizing health issues. 

Another question in the survey was to know how they cope up with the situation. 56% are without any protection. 8% have air purifiers installed at their homes while 15% are using masks. 21% are using both masks and air-purifiers at home. 

The Air Quality Index recorded on Children’s Day was 359. It is still in ‘Very Poor’ category. Leaving NCR can be justified as no-one wants to inhale such poison.