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Smog tightens grip, mishaps up 

Chandigarh: Dense smog has enveloped most parts of the state, throwing life out of gear and causing fatal accidents.

Six persons have lost their lives on state highways in the past 24 hours due to poor visibility.

The situation worsened last evening when low-velocity winds led to heavy concentration of pollutants, causing breathing problems and irritation in eyes.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) data reveals that the average concentration of PM10 (particulate matter) was recorded at 177 mg/Nm3 (permissible limit 100) and the average concentration of PM 2.5 was recorded at 90.18 mg/Nm3 (permissible limit 60).

Almost 3,000 cases of stubble-burning have been recorded in Patiala district so far by the PPCB through remote-sensing technique. Levels of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM 2.5) between 301 and 500 are classified as hazardous, while anything over 500 is beyond the official index.

The air quality at Mandi Gobindgarh was 349 µg/m³, Ludhiana 351 µg/m³ and Amritsar 319 µg/m³.

PPCB chairman Kahan Singh Pannu said despite their best efforts “air pollution continues to be alarmingly high”. In a letter to Punjab Mandi Board, the PPCB has raised the issue of high pollution level in grain markets during paddy purchase season when the drying of the crop leads to five times the permissible limit of pollutants in the air.

In Bathinda, visibility has been reduced to below 100 metres, which was just 10 per cent of what was recorded on days with clear skies during this period last year.

Meanwhile, at least six persons were killed in smog-related mishaps. In Patiala district, bike-borne Avtar Singh died after being hit by a car late last evening at Bakshiwal village. Two persons lost their lives after a tractor hit their scooter this morning in Rajpura. A cyclist was reportedly run over by a vehicle near Uksi village in Rajpura.

In Fatehgarh Sahib, Rajinder Singh (52), a farmer of Damheri village, rammed his motorcycle into a stationary school bus near Ferozepur village early this morning. He died on the spot. Jaswinder Singh (48) of Cholta Kalan village was seriously injured after a car hit his motorcycle near Jhanjheri. He was rushed to the local Civil Hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead. The car driver sped away. Jaswinder worked as a security guard in a private college.

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