After Shimla, use of coal heating stoves and fireplaces are likely to be banned from three other hill stations of Himachal Pradesh. //
Heating coal stoves and fireplaces were banned in Shimla some eight years ago by the state government cleaning the town's air significantly in winters.
Experts say burning coal on a large- scale leads to emission of dangerous gases into the air like sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide which are serious health hazards.
Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board officials say they are now considering banning the use of coal in Dharamsala, Manali and Dalhousie.
These three popular cold resort towns use a large quantity of coal in winter that spews out plumes of smoke into the thin mountain air.
Studies have proved that suspended particulate matter (SPM) is higher from Nov 1 to March 15 by around 50 per cent in these towns due to the use of coal by households, offices, hotels and other commercial establishments.
"In winter SPM count can go up by around 80 per cent," said an official of the pollution board.
"We will launch a public awareness campaign in Manali, Dharamsala and Dalhousie telling them about the hazards of using this unclean fuel (coal). They can switch over to cleaner electricity-operated devices or kerosene and liquefied petroleum stoves for heating," said S.P.Vasudeva, member secretary of the Himachal Pradesh Pollution Control Board.
The state is already power surplus in hydel energy and electricity is one of the cheapest in the country.
"After the awareness campaign we will take action under the state Air and Water Pollution Control Act against erring persons," he said.
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