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Ashwin Sabapathy, S D Badrinath, Purandar Chakravarty, Rashmi Gopal, and Vangala Krishna; Environmental Studies, The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI), Southern Regional Centre


The national and state governments in India have implemented a number of programs to control air pollution over the past few decades. These have however, not been part of any concerted strategy and have mostly been reactive in nature. Further, these measures have mainly focused on larger cities and little or no effort has been made for smaller cities as the problem of air quality is not perceived to be serious in small towns. The formulation of urban air quality management strategies need to take into account the regional administrative and institutional framework for it to be effective and a case of Karnataka State is discussed in this paper. This paper first reviews the status of urban air quality in towns and cities of Karnataka and trends over the past five years. SPM concentrations exceed permissible limits in commercial areas of several small cities as well as larger Municipal Corporations while the large city of Bangalore has moderately high concentrations close to permissible limits. Respirable particulate matter is also of concern at most stations. Though low NOX and SO2 concentrations would seem to suggest that re-suspended road dust and other natural sources could be major contributors to particulates, this has not yet been established scientifically. The transport, industrial, domestic and power sectors - major sectors contributing to urban air pollution - in the state are then discussed and an attempt made to quantify health and economic impacts of urban air pollution in the State. Relevant institutions at the State level are then examined with a focus on their gaps and deficiencies for air quality monitoring, vehicular emission control, alternative fuel, checking fuel adulteration, enforcing industrial compliance and integrated town planning. Finally, future policy and institutional strategies for urban air quality improvement have been suggested for Karnataka.

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