Congratulations to Pathanamthitta District in Kerala, the Place with the Cleanest Air in India!
by Elizabeth Menon

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Congratulations to Pathanamthitta District in Kerala, the Place with the Cleanest Air in India!

Pathanamthitta has the cleanest air to breath in the whole of India, according to the WHO! The World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a survey on air quality in 1600 cities covering 91 countries as a part of bringing in awareness to minimising air pollution and thus, saving lives! The particles in the air were studied for this survey PM10 and PM2.5 are considered most reliable to assess the nature of the air pollution: Particulate Matter 10 and Particulate Matter 2.5. The PM10 and PM2.5 database released by WHO contains data of 124 Indian cities and analysis of this database indicates that all Indian cities exceed the WHO guideline of 20 g/cum for PM10! Out of the 20 worst polluted cities in the world, 13 cities are from India! Only Pathanamthitta in Kerala State is within the WHO guideline limit of 10 micrograms/cum (10 g/cum) in case of PM 2.5, and the PM10 level also is quite low, only 3 g/cum higher than the WHO guideline!

Three cities in India are the least polluted in India, and the two out of the three are from Kerala! Pathanamthitta stays at the top with the least pollution levels, followed by Kollam and then Hassan City of Karnataka: Pathanamthitta (PM10:23 and PM2.5:10), Kollam (PM10:39 and PM2.5:17) and Hassan city of Karnataka (PM10:44 and PM2.5:19). The low levels of pollution in Pathanamthitta is similar to that of UK, Australia, Spain, US,etc! In UK, only nine cities failed to comply with the WHO guidelines. Alappuzha is in 5th place(46/20), Thiruvananthapuram in 7th(52/23), followed quite closely by Kottayam(55/34), Kozhikkod(57/35), Kochi(64/38) and Thrissur(73/320) among the cleaner cities in India, but PATHANAMTHITTA is the 'Ruler of the Pack'!

According to the Who guidelines, the PM10 should be below 20 micrograms/cum (20 g/cum) and PM 2.5 should be below 10 micrograms/cum (10 g/cum) The PM 2.5 levels are the worst in Delhi and Patna,15 times higher than that of the WHO guideline, followed by Gwalior, Raipur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Ferozabad, all exceeding the safe levels by 9 to14 times! Kanpur, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Allahabad, Agra, Jodhpur, Dehradun and Chandrapur follow closely Delhi has 286 and 153g/cum and even a city like Bangalore has high levels of 143 and 45 g/cum! It is interesting to note that the Indian 'National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)' stipulates much higher levels, for PM10 is 60 g/cum, and for PM2.5 it is 40 g/cum, which is three to four times higher than that of WHO, putting us in danger!

The high levels of air pollution causes long term illness and was responsible for around 3.7 million deaths globally during 2012. "Too many urban centres today are so enveloped in dirty air that their skylines are invisible," said Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO's assistant director-general for family, children and women's health. "Not surprisingly, this air is dangerous to breathe. So a growing number of cities and communities worldwide are striving to better meet the needs of their residents - in particular children and the elderly." The air quality in most cities in the world that monitor outdoor air pollution fail to meet WHO guidelines for safe levels, putting people at additional risk of respiratory disease, cancer and other health problems. It can also cause problems for the pregnant women and the babies, causing premature births, abnormalities in the babies or even death of the unborn baby!

It is paramount that the Government implements the law to make sure that the vehicles follow the guidelines and I hope the 'National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)' in India changes the guidelines regarding the pollution levels to match the WHO guidelines. And it is important that 'We', the public make use of the facilities available, the use of biogas for cooking, hybrid cars to reduce carbon emission, avoid using cars or bus when walking would do, etc, and takes adequate precaution to reduce carbon footprints to save the world and our future generation! What we also need is cleaner technology and tighter environmental legislation to improve the air we breath.

Congratulations to Pathanamthitta District in Kerala and all those who belong there! Pathanamthitta is one of the most beautiful places, where one gets to see the rivers, hills, Perunthenaruvi Water Falls, the lush tea and Cardamom plantations, paddy fields, coconut groves, rubber and coffee, animal reserves, etc! The world famous 'Aranmula Vaalkkannati' solely made of Bell metal comes from this beautiful district and one must not forget 'Aranmula Boat race (Vallam Kali)', favourite of our first Prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, held in the village of Aranmula in Pathanamthitta! Elanthur, where Mahathma Gandhi visited also is in this district And this is where people come from all over the world seeking solace and blessing from the Maramon Convention on the banks of River Pampa, Shabarimala Ayyappan and Parumala Thirumeni. I feel proud that we have the cleanest air in our District in the whole of India, endorsed by the World Health Organization!

© E Menon



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