The Assam Kaziranga University

Guwahati’s air quality has been deteriorating this month, and it is expected to worsen if the dry spell continues.

The city’s AQI (air quality index) has been classified as ‘poor’ on seven of the nine days so far in March.

On Wednesday, the AQI was 259. On March 8, it was 246; on Monday, it was 234.

Only on March 1 and 6, the 24-hour average AQI in the city was less than 200, at 126 and 194, respectively. However, the trend seemed to be deteriorating.

An AQI (air quality index) of 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is satisfactory, 101-200 is moderate, 201-300 is poor, 301-400 is extremely poor, and 401-500 is classified as severe or hazardous.

On prolonged exposure, AQI in the ‘poor’ category may cause breathing difficulties in the majority of people.

Assam Pollution Control Board officials blamed the phenomenon on vehicle emissions, dust from construction and demolition sites, deforestation, waste burning, and dust blown by wind and vehicular movement.

According to an official source, despite having a “action plan,” the agencies concerned did little to combat the issue.

The Forest Department and the NHAI were tasked with creating and maintaining “green buffers” along traffic corridors. However, tree felling continued in the city.

“Agencies like PWD, Guwahati Municipal Corporation, GMDA, district administration etc., were as signed different tasks like ensuring carriage and storage of construction materials in closed and covered vessels, minimise earth cutting from the hills to prevent dust generation, regular cleaning of street surfaces and spraying of water to suppress dust, immediate lifting of solid waste generated from desilting and cleaning of municipal drains for its disposal, but on the ground very little has been implemented. The result is reflected in the growing pollution problem of the city,” the official said.

“One cannot stop the wind in this season, but efforts should be made to reduce the dust generation. Prior to the visit of the President, all the roadside garbage and plastic in the city were burnt in the open,” he said, adding that the way the flyovers are being built has also contributed to the problem.

In March of last year, the AQI had dropped to ‘very poor’ quality. Guwahati was recently ranked 40th on a list of the world’s 50 most polluted cities by IQAir, a Swiss organisation.

The Assam Kaziranga University