Despite a recent decrease in stubble burning cases, Ludhiana is grappling with hazardous air quality, with the air quality index (AQI) surpassing 300 for the past five days, categorizing the city as "very poor."
Despite a recent decrease in stubble burning cases, Ludhiana is grappling with hazardous air quality, with the air quality index (AQI) surpassing 300 for the past five days, categorizing the city as “very poor.”
The surge in pollution levels has led to a notable increase in respiratory and ENT patients across hospitals in the district. Even with a limited occurrence of stubble burning in the region in recent days, the air quality has remained consistently high. On November 26, with only one reported case of stubble burning, the AQI reached 311. Similarly, on November 25, in the absence of stubble burning, the AQI remained at 311.
The trend continued with six stubble burning cases on November 24 contributing to an AQI of 317. On November 23, four cases resulted in an AQI of 338, and on November 22, 17 cases led to an AQI of 361.
Respiratory Issues Resurface:
Patients in Ludhiana are reporting prolonged cough, fever, respiratory ailments, aggravated allergies, and viral infections. While pollution remains a major contributor to these ailments, the sudden change in temperature has played a significant role.
Dr. Anil Kumar Kashyap, a professor of pulmonary medicine at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, expressed concern, stating, “In the OPD, we have witnessed a surge of around 30 percent in patients, specifically in the last two weeks. Besides patients with preexisting conditions like COPD and asthma, individuals with no prior signs of respiratory illnesses are now presenting with persistent prolonged cough, days-long fever with no exact infection underlying, mainly due to pollution coupled with weather change.”
Experts warn against the long-term impact of pollution-triggered symptoms, cautioning that what starts as a nasal allergy or sore throat can develop into serious respiratory illnesses.
Public Dissatisfaction and Government Response:
Residents express dissatisfaction with the government’s response to rising pollution levels, citing the lack of effective plans and a helpline for registering complaints or seeking solutions.
Jatinder Sandhu, a resident, stated, “It is high time they come up with a dedicated policy before this district turns into another Delhi in terms of AQI. They can at least create a helpline where common residents can file complaints and contribute to curb pollution.”
Acknowledging the issue, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) officials mentioned that weather conditions, stubble burning, and vehicular emissions have contributed to the deteriorating air quality. PPCB chief environmental engineer Pardeep Gupta emphasized the involvement of different stakeholders in addressing the complex issue.