Monitoring Pollution

  • In most parts of the country there is a drastic lack of equipment to monitor the quality of air. It is only Delhi that has some infrastructure to monitor air quality. There are six automatic air-monitoring stations across Delhi which are also in working condition. Also there are 5 automatic stations for collecting real-time data which come under the ambit of Central Pollution Control Board. However, none of them have the ability to monitor the levels of PM 2.5 which the most potent air pollution. Another 10 monitoring stations were set up by Ministry of Earth Sciences in wake of Commonwealth Games. So out of 19 stations data is only available from four of them.
  • The plight of Haryana, the state touching the National Capital is dismal with only three stations at Gurgaon, Faridabad and Rohtak. But, none of them are functional either due to hardware issues or software concerns.
  • Air Quality data is essential to define the pollution levels. India has launched its AQI which tells health concerns associated with poor air quality. AQI is generally linked to the precautions which people should take to ward off the health effects. E.g. Beijing shuts schools on red alert days and Paris does not allow diesel cars inside city limits on smoggy days. India lacks such systems and swiftness of information transfer and analysis to inform the public about real-time effects of these dangers. India has 580 manual stations which collect data and then send samples to laboratories for analysis. Thus, an average data comes after 24 hours and that too after special initiative. India cannot afford automatic systems as each such monitoring station requires Rs.1 Crore for initial set up and a huge amount for annual maintenance.

Indian air is not clean and it needs systems in place to measure the extent of pollution in a much cost-effective yet authentic way. Both the correctness and speed of information will be needed to match up to the world level.