Nehru Zoological Park chokes on toxic air

By Author  |  Published: 17th Feb 2017  11:59 pmUpdated: 18th Feb 2017  12:05 am
Nehru Zoological Park
Photo: Surya Sridhar.

Hyderabad: It is treated as a sensitive zone for its variety of animal and bird species but Nehru Zoological Park closed ranks with major industrial clusters of Hyderabad such as Balanagar and Jeedimetla in terms of pollution levels.

The data collated by Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB) last year suggest the air quality recordings at the zoo marching ahead of not only the industrial clusters, but also dense traffic corridors and the hotspots such as Charminar, Paradise and Punjagutta.

In 2016, the zoo’s air quality average — calculated using different parameters — stood at 131, while Balanagar logged in 125 and Pashamylaram 118. Traffic junctions Paradise recorded an average of 119 and Punjagutta stood at 108.

The ambient air quality is measured with basic parameters such as particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5) and others such as Sulphur Oxides (SOx) and Nitrogen Oxide (NOx). As per the Air Quality Index (AQI), recordings between 101 and 200, though not red marked, are described as moderate with possible health effects of causing breathing discomfort for those with lung and heart diseases.

PCB officials attribute the high pollution levels at the zoo to its location on a dense highway traffic corridor and the large number of small and unorganised small industrial units in its vicinity.

“Apart from vehicular traffic, high presence of dust, burning of waste and construction debris contribute to pollution,” said N Ravinder, Senior Environmental Scientist at PCB.

Almost 40 to 50 per cent of the deterioration in ambient air quality happens due to vehicular emissions, said PCB scientists. One aspect observed by them with data from the zoo monitoring station suggested a sharp rise in PM 2.5.

“This particulate matter is usually from diesel emissions,” said an official, pointing out that there could be more diesel vehicles plying on the stretch. Complaints of indiscriminate burning of waste were common here and the presence of unorganised units added to the mess, the official said.