Manesar more polluted than Gurugram city: AQI data
Manesar had just one day of good air, 10 days of satisfactory air, 14 days of moderate air and two days of poor air.
Air quality data from Manesar, gathered by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board’s (HSPCB) monitoring station in Sector 2, Industrial Model Township (IMT), shows that the region has recorded consistently higher level of air pollution than Gurugram city. Officials and experts attributed this to the presence of polluting industries in the region and vehicular emissions contributed by the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, which was inaugurated in November last year, and the National Highway-48 (NH-48).
Over the past one week, for example, Gurugram’s air quality has remained largely in the upper end of the satisfactory category of the Central Pollution Control Board’s air quality index (AQI), whereas Manesar has remained in the lower end of the moderate category.
This trend is reflected in data going back at least three months. In July, Manesar recorded a higher AQI than Gurugram on 20 days of the month, despite rain and high humidity levels in the region.
In July, while Gurugram city had four days of good air, 16 days of satisfactory air, eight days of moderate air and two days of poor air, Manesar experienced three days of good air, 13 days of satisfactory air, 10 days of moderate air and two days of poor air.
In August, once rains became sparse, pollution levels in Manesar substantially surpassed those in Gurugram, which had 15 days of good air and 14 days of satisfactory air. Manesar, meanwhile, had just one day of good air, 10 days of satisfactory air, 14 days of moderate air and two days of poor air. This pattern continued in September as well, when Gurugram had 16 days of good air quality, but Manesar saw just two good air days.
A similar trend for last year’s winter pollution cycle could not be established due to several gaps in the air quality data for Manesar in December and January. The air quality monitor itself was installed last November, while air quality data recorded by it is available from December 6 onward (on the CPCB’s National Air Quality Index web app). But, on several days, the daily average AQI value was identical to the daily average PM2.5 level, which experts said is an inaccurate way of calculating air quality.
HSPCB senior scientist Rajesh Garhia said, “There are many red- and orange-category polluting industries in Manesar whereas Gurugram is largely residential. Moreover, the opening of the KMP Expressway has managed to divert freight movement away from the city, but the pollution load is now being borne by Manesar. Hence the difference in AQI readings.”
In addition to this, experts said that Manesar’s geographic location also contributes to higher pollution levels. “Gurugram is a city built in the plains. The level landscape is conducive to dispersal of pollutants by wind, which are presently blowing towards Delhi. Manesar, on the other hand, is situated deeper within the Aravallis, which has an undulating topography. It is located in the middle of a valley-like depression, making it harder for pollutants to escape,” independent air quality expert Sachin Panwar said, adding that promoting green cover in the area would a definite way to enhance air quality.
Moreover, poor waste management practices also contribute significantly to the air quality in Manesar. “Waste burning is an issue in Gurugram as well, but has more of an impact in Manesar because it is largely industrial waste that is burnt here. During our field work, we have seen that several industrial units burn their waste in close proximity to the air quality monitor, which is reflected in the AQI data,” Panwar said.
Manesar, though a part of Gurugram district, falls under a rural cluster, where activities like cooking and heating are still carried out traditionally, over open fires using biomass (wood, leaves, cowdung) or coal as fuels, whereas in Gurugram electricity and LPG are the go-to fuels.
Talking about the difference in air quality, HSPCB assistant environment engineer, Gurugram, Ajay Malik said, “We will have to conduct a formal analysis to see why Manesar up shows as a more polluted city. Off the cuff, I can say that it could be because of the location of the monitor, which is adjacent to NH48 and right in the middle of IMT—a heavily industrialised area.”
What makes Manesar more polluted