The Human Rights Forum (HRF) has expressed deep concern over the increasing levels of air pollution in the city of Visakhapatnam. Talking to the press on Wednesday, members of the HRF mentioned that the city has already been named the most polluted city in South India according to a recent Greenpeace India study. The high air pollution level in Visakhapatnam needs to be addressed immediately says HRF.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) is measured on a scale of 0 to 500. Air quality in Vizag often records unhealthy (151-200) and very unhealthy (201-300) levels. During winters, it hits the threshold zone of 301 and higher. This indicates the air pollution level in Visakhapatnam is high and is becoming a major concern for residents of the city.
HRF General Secretary K Sudha said that we are all being exposed to the most harmful pollutant emanating from multiple sources. She added that the citizens have a right to clean air but do not seem to have a choice other than breathing noxious fumes every day amidst a sense of utter helplessness.
According to the press release by The HRF, the air in Vizag has become so lethal that one cannot breathe at any hour of the day or night without harming themselves. Coal dust generated by operations of the Vizag Port Trust seems to spread across the city because of sea winds. Despite intervention by the National Green Tribunal, there has been no improvement, the release mentioned. The HRF addressed that continuous exposure to coal dust causes scarring in the lungs, impairing one’s ability to breathe. Vulnerable groups like the young, elderly, the poor, and those with pre-existing health conditions are at particular risk from exposure to this persistent toxic cloud they warned.
New World Health Organisation (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) provide clear evidence of air pollution’s inflicts on human health. This horrendous situation amounts to a public health emergency. The High pollution level in Visakhapatnam poses a grave threat to our lives and urgent steps need to be called for to improve conditions. HRF demands that authorities initiate and take forward credible, effective, and timely measures to halt this breaching of nominal and legal air pollution limits. They suggest a shift to clean energy and clean transport. HRF urges the Central Pollution Control Board to introduce new national ambient air quality standards that are in tune with the latest scientific understanding and are based on the updated WHO AQGs.