Visakhapatnam Port recently received the distinction of being the second cleanest port in the country, amongst 12 major ports. But it can’t be denied that the pollution caused by the port has been a hazard for residents in parts of Steel City. Coal and iron cargo being handled by the Visakhapatnam port has allegedly polluted air in the vicinity.
People from the Old Town area in Kotaveedhi, Soldierpeta and Ganapuram are reportedly prone to health disorders like skin allergies and eye problems due to the pollution. The hospitals in these localities always seem to be filled and it’s a common complaint here that the locals in these areas spend sleepless nights due to eye issues.
The victims of the pollution have been demanding safety measures from the Visakhapatnam Port for a long while. Numerous petitions have been sent to the port and to officials of the state and central governments. But nothing has really come out of this move. The areas in Old Town consist of educational institutions and a large number of students of all ages end up inhaling this polluted air.
Several ports including Chennai have stopped dusty cargo operations and the citizens here reportedly want the same to be introduced in Visakhapatnam Port to save them from health hazards. The pollutants can be stocked in sheds and vehicles laden with the same can be covered with tarps to keep the air pollution in check.
APPCB norms dictate that irrespirable suspended particulate matter cannot cross the tolerable limit of 60 microns per metric cube. But in several places in the city, the limit exceeds the limit and in some places, the levels are even alarming.
A proposal was reportedly made by the then VPT Chairman Ajay Kallam to shift all inhaitants away from the vulnerable areas around the port, but for reasons unknown, the proposal was shelved. Inhaling the polluted air could cause chronic pulmonary disease, forcing victims to use inhalers.
A massive plantation campaign has been launched by VPT to keep the air pollution in check. The measures put in place by the port now include sprinkling water and building high-rise walls around the cargo.