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With Lung Infections on the Rise, Kolkata Becomes the Fourth Most Polluted City in India

The report was released in Rajasthan on the February 11, by former Supreme Court Judge Madan B Lokur and said that 12.5% deaths in India in 2017 were caused due to air pollution.

Prema Rajaram | CNN-News18

Updated:February 14, 2019, 1:16 PM IST
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With Lung Infections on the Rise, Kolkata Becomes the Fourth Most Polluted City in India
Photo for representation. (Image: Reuters)
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Kolkata: According to a 2017 report by the Centre of Science and Environment, the city of Kolkata ranks fourth in the list pollution related deaths in India.

The highest number of air pollution deaths were reported from Uttar Pradesh at 2, 60,028 and Maharashtra came second with 1, 08,038. West Bengal comes in fourth with 94,534 deaths after Bihar which recorded 96,967 deaths.

The report was released in Rajasthan on the February 11, by former Supreme Court Judge Madan B Lokur and said that 12.5% deaths in India in 2017 were caused due to air pollution. While doctors in Kolkata are unable to nit-pick a direct correlation between deaths and air pollution, cases of lung infections are certainly on the rise in the city. The air quality index (AQI) recorded at Victoria Memorial, the heart of the city, is 244 which is alarming.

What is a wakeup call is the rising number of patients in the city with breathing difficulties from bronchitis and a more severe form of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which is found in elderly patients.

65-year-old Siuli Chakraborty, a resident of Siliguri in North Bengal is a COPD patient for the last ten years. “It takes her a week to acclimatise to the surroundings in Kolkata with air pollution being a major factor. There are several precautions she has to take which include travelling with windows rolled up to avoid dust outside to affect her,” her daughter-in-law Piyashi Chakraborty told News18.

Apart from outdoor pollution, indoor pollution is also on the rise. Measures like preventing the burning of incense sticks, woollen clothes and sheets being dusted in the absence of a COPD patient and staying away from the kitchen stove as much as possible are some measures can be taken.

Dr.Mita Roy Sengupta, a Pulmonologist of CK Birla Hospitals believes there exists a trend of rising air pollution levels across the world.

“One cannot specify whether these deaths are due to air pollution related diseases. However, people are susceptible to chronic bronchitis, asthama and COPD due to high pollution levels, as the respiratory air tract gets disturbed.”

The city of Kolkata is a rapidly expanding urbanscape that has witnessed major industrialisation and housing projects over the recent years. This has led to an increase in material waste in Kolkata’s latest dumping ground in Dhapa area, causing harm to people staying and working in surrounding areas.

20-year-old Anwesha Bhowmick, a hotel management student from Hyderabad, fell ill while interning at a hotel in Kolkata.

While her job was primarily based indoors, Anwesha suffered a chest congestion and fever on a regular basis. “She could not take leave during her one month internship period. The air pollution is one of the factors that prevented Anwesha from coming back to Kolkata to work,” said her father.

The burning of garbage poses a health threat, as setting materials like plastic or thermocol turns the air toxic. The process of segregated waste collection if introduced in Kolkata, along with more sustainable methods of disposing garbage, will help reduce the air pollution levels in Dhapa and surrounding areas.
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