AQI in Maharashtra's Chandrapur city crosses 400; fog apparent trigger

By PTI

NAGPUR: In an unusual instance, the air quality index (AQI) in Chandrapur city in Maharashtra crossed 400 on Monday, mainly due to fog moisture and change in temperature, an official said, adding that dust or industrial pollution doesn’t seem to be the prima facie cause. The air quality index at the Chandrapur Thermal Power Station crossed 300 to reach 325.

A Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) official in Chandrapur told PTI that their stations have registered the air quality index in Chandrapur exceeding 400 on Monday and the air quality index at Chandrapur Thermal Power Station crossing 325.

To a query whether the AQI shot up due to industrial pollution or dust, the official said the AQI exceeding 400 seems “accidental”. “Fog log could be the cause. The censors only sense particles of dirt or fog moisture,” he said.

The official also said that the reading at the thermal power station also showed an increase in AQI though there is no source of dust at that spot. “If it (AQI) exceeds 400 it indicates (the concentration of) dust layer. But this situation (high reading) is due to fog which is also prevalent in the nearby Gadchiroli district. The fog situation is a natural phenomenon. During fog, environment monitoring systems would show the same reading anywhere. The reason for the higher reading is the change in temperature and fog,” the official added.

Environment Ministry’s regional committee member Suresh Chopne, a resident of Chandrapur, said that Chandrapur city in east Maharashtra is one of the most polluted areas. “The thermal power station is a major polluting industry. As the wind flows in the direction of the city and temperatures come down, the PM (Particulate Matter) concentration goes up. Local vehicular pollution is also a contributing factor. The role of a dust storm in increasing pollution can’t be ignored but it needs confirmation from authorities,” he added.