The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to introduce a new machine to be installed in mechanical grain cleaners in an effort to check pollution and provide respite to thousands of farmers and workers who are hit by major health hazards caused by the dust-laden air at the sites.
Polluted air is the main cause of respiratory and lung diseases affecting labourers, farmers and those living in the vicinity of the grain markets, chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) Kahan Singh Pannu said in Chandigarh on Monday.
The Board took air samples from 10 main grain markets of the state and found that RPMs (Respirable Particulate Matter) was five to eight times more than the prescribed limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre, he said.
There are 50,000 mechanical grain cleaners in the grain markets of Punjab which produce a lot of dust and an estimated six workers works on a single machine. Thus, nearly three lakh workers are affected by dust pollution.
The PPCB has developed a machine to check air pollution during the cleaning process of crops, Pannu said, adding they will help to keep the environment healthy inside and outside the mandis.
After discussions with farmers, commission agents and other stakeholders, the board has developed a dust collector, which will be installed on mechanical grain cleaners, he said.
With dust mounting machines fitted on mechanical grain cleaners, 90 per cent dust will accumulate in them, thereby helping to keep the environment clean, he said.
This machine was tested in Asia's largest grain market Khanna, and it was successful, he said.
The Board is now taking steps to make this machine mandatory on mechanical grain cleaners in all the grain markets, he said, adding dust pollution is a major danger, which needs to be curbed urgently.