Air Pollution in Kolkata, Causes, Effects & Control Measures


Air Pollution in Kolkata

Air pollution has become a major issue in India in recent times, and is not confined to a major territory or state. In almost all major cities of India, the quality is air turning out to be very bad and causing many health issues among the public.

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All the major cities are highly polluted and one among them is Kolkata, which isn’t in much of attention as compared to air pollution in Delhi. Kolkata previously known as Calcutta is one of the metropolitan city and capital of West Bengal.

It is a less known fact that, Kolkata has surpassed Delhi in terms of pollution. Kolkata is a metropolitan city and according to sources, it is being ranked as second most polluted city in the country and its air quality index is declining faster than that of Delhi.

With the increase in number of vehicles on roads, lack of infrastructural facilities, industrialisation are some of the reasons that has lead to pollution in the city.

Due to rapid growth in the population and urbanisation many trees have been cut down and this has lead to more of bad quality of air in the atmosphere. To this lazy attitude of government and citizens, has added to more pollution and deterioration of quality of air. There are plenty of old vehicles which emit smoke and there is no pollution check done to these vehicles.

As the winter arrives, there is smog everywhere and especially at the time of Diwali when firecrackers are burnt, people sit around fire to keep themselves warm, burning of wood etc. cause the smog increase and the whole city is covered with poor quality of air, resulting in many health hazards.


Causes of Air pollution in Kolkata:

There are many factors that lead to air pollution in Kolkata, which is the reason for many health issues and smog in the city.

Some of the causes are:

  • The main cause of pollution in Kolkata is transportation. There are many old vehicles plying in the city which use petrol and diesel. There is no check on these vehicles and they emit many harmful gases. According to sources over 95% of population is caused due to diesel based vehicles and commercial vehicles. Along with this, there are lot of public transport like autos, trams, open buses which are in poor condition. Apart from this these high number of vehicles both personal and commercial cause traffic and congestion, leading to more wastage of fuel and commuting time.
  • There are thermal power plants in and around the city which cause pollution both in air as well as water. There are many small scale industries in the city area which lead to pollution and making it difficult for people around them to breathe.
  • Use of plastic is one of the other issues in Kolkata, although government made many attempts to ban the use of plastic. Kolkata has been slower in implementing the same. May people use plastic bags daily and these plastic bags are either burnt or thrown in water. Burning plastic not only gives a bad smell, but also pollutes the air and emits harmful gasses.
  • Trash burning is carried on a regular basis. There are huge dump-yards where huge quantities of trash is being burned regularly, causing pollution in the air.
  • With the raising population and urbanisation, construction of new buildings are being done, therefore leading to construction dust like cement, wood trash etc. To give space to new constructions, trees are being chopped off, which do not give any fresh or new air.


Effects of air pollution in Kolkata:

Air pollution leads to many health hazards making it difficult to people breathe and survive in a clean environment. According to experts and doctors, Kolkata should also take measures same as in Delhi to deal with air pollution or it will lead to serious health issues among the public.

More deaths due to lung cancer and heart attacks are the major concern in the present era. The most effected are the school going and college going students, who fall prey for asthma. People who are on roads for long periods such as dwellers, hawkers, drivers of public transport are at more risk than anyone, as they inhale more of these harmful gasses.

People are at high risk of respiratory disorders and other disorders due to rising air pollution. People also suffer from irritation in eyes, sneezing, cough, allergies and body rashes.


Measures to Prevent Air Pollution in Kolkata:

Citizens of Kolkata have been taking a keen interest in preventing pollution and saving many lives. Some of them are:

  • Car pooling

    People in Kolkata are trying out car pooling to reduce number of vehicles in roads, authorities, should encourage public to go for car polling regularly. This will decrease movement of more number of vehicles and traffic on roads.

  • Pollution checks on all vehicles

Government should take steps to consider pollution checks on all the vehicles in the city with strict measures and penalties for those not complying with rules.

  • Cleaning drives –

Cleaning of roads and other public places must be carried out regularly, this will stop from accumulation of duct particles.


  • Control on construction –

Construction activities should be regulated and stopped in some areas.

  • Use a dust mask whenever you step outside of home, which prevents from bad air entering into your system.

Pollution Level in Kolkata

The Air Quality Index (AQI), in Kolkata showed, 409 in Nov’2018 and 415 in Dec’2018, which is considered as “Poor”.  The city residents breathe 5 times of bad air and around 71% of people suffer from respiratory diseases.

Most of the people suffering from respiratory diseases are non-smoking people. Many people are under risk of cancer. The smoke is equal to smoking of 22 cigarettes on an average. People who excercise in the mornings inhale deeper and this leads to more penetration of bad air in their lungs.


Air Pollution in Kolkatta Statistics

Pollution levels rise rapidly in winter due to low speed of wind and damp weather. Kolkata, as usual has a damp weather and the dust particles get trapped easily. PM2.5 is not available during all the seasons but it increases at the start of winter even the Air Quality index raises above 300/400 during the winter season. The pollution and bad air quality is at peak during night time and early in the morning.


Control Measures to Reduce Air Pollution

While government is taking many steps to control the pollution and its effects, these steps are to be taken urgently to reduce the pollution, as it is causes serious health effects to citizens and natural life.

Here are the steps taken by the authorities to solve the situation:

  • Since the city’s design is compact, it helps to keep the trips short. Walk and cycling would help reduce traffic and congestion, the smoke emitting from vehicles.
  • Strict parking policies and lesser roads would also force citizens from using their own vehicles.
  • Monitoring the thermal power plants.
  • Improvising public transport, like frequency, speed and comfort. So that public uses more of public transport than their own vehicles, leading to lesser vehicles on roads.

Air pollution is becoming a big and rising issue day by day, if this is not controlled it is going to kill all the natural life slowly. Strict control measures are need of the hour, if this is not done, citizens of all age groups including unborn kids are going to suffer.

Dangerous gasses such as Nitrogen, Hydrocarbons have been found to depleting the natural sources. People residing in low level areas such as slums or near factories are the worst sufferers and they have many disease which are accused due to the bad quality of air.

Government should take proper  measures to spread awareness among public about effects of air pollution on their lives. Citizens are also obliged to take initiatives to help save the environment and future generations.

Planting of trees, carpooling, building of more parks etc. would help in fighting the pollution. Redesigning the infrastructure such as roads and transport system, would also help to great extent.

Air quality keeps deteriorating every season, although many steps have been taken and many laws have been implemented, the public and concerned authorities pay a deaf ear to it. This attitude must be changed, or the effects will be very dangerous. .

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