India’s air quality information classified

By: Staff Reporter
English Free Article Pollution

New Delhi, 10 Jan (GnY News Service): The air quality in the cities in India is worsening but the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the various other governmental institutions that duplicate their work do not wish to share their findings with the general public – it seems that the data is classified.
With no real time data on the website of CPCB that mans around 500 air quality stations all over the nation, manual and automatic, it is impossible to update oneself with the air quality of the city one may be heading to.

A cursory reading of the data from cities across India shows that most data has not been updated for over a month or more. For example, the data for Delhi is dated December 1, 2013; Mumbai has data from November 30, 2013; Bihar has data from November 12, 2013. It may be mentioned that the data for Delhi was updated within fifteen minutes of the G’nY correspondent’s call to a senior scientist in the air lab of CPCB.

The scientist cited “internet problems” for the delay in updation of data.

The CPCB scientist revealed that air quality is monitored in industries as well, but the data from these monitoring stations is not available even with the CPCB. The nexus between the air polluting industries and the CPCB and the PCBs needs to be examined.

Air quality is important not only for those who suffer from lung related ailments, but also for those with heart and related problems. The quality of air is also related to fatigue and general well-being. Just as we follow the weather related information, available freely on mobile and other media, air quality should also be part and parcel of every release. Only it is not.

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) (an organization that works to develop sustainable solutions for environmental problems) officials cite that the instrumentation required for real time air quality analysis is quite expensive which ranges from 1 to 2 crores and an annual outlay of a few lakhs is required for maintenance.

Dr. M P George, a senior scientist in the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) air lab, who believes that more locations are needed to monitor the quality of air in Delhi, also cited instrumentation costing issues.

What is worrisome is that there is duplication of work between governmental departments with System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) put up under the aegis of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a constituent under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, setting up separate real-time air quality provision in various cities.

If instrumentation is an expensive proposition it seems all the more reason to strengthen the existing organisations that were set out to undertake the profile rather than delegating new organisations funds for same. The CPCB and all the state PCBs should be strengthened to take up real-time air quality reporting to all media. Air quality data from each city must be made available.

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