Questions over air pollution data

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is monitoring air pollution levels across 350 Indian cities but questions are being asked about the inadequate levels of air pollution data being generated from these cities .

Despite the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) having made an substantial allocation for the setting up of online monitoring stations across all these cities, Delhi remains the only Indian city which has set up eleven online National Ambient Air Quality Monitors which provide real time pollution data on an hourly basis.
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) which has been assessing these air pollution out flows for over a decade believe that there is a serious need to move away from the existing hand run portals to install online portals.
Sunita Narain, director general of CSE said, “The entire NCR is an extremely polluted but Noida does not have a monitoring station to date.”
“Gurgaon’s pollution levels are extremely high and while they set up a pollution station last week, we learn that it is not functioning.”
Chennai has eleven monitoring stations but five of these continue to be hand run and the data from these remains suspect pointed out Dr Anumita Roychowdhury of CSE.
By contrast, Beijing has 35 monitoring stations providing online data round the clock. Pollutant levels in Gwalior, Kanpur, Howrah, Asansol and Ghaziabad are higher than Delhi but air quality data generated by these cities remains a matter of concern especially since none of these cities are classified as critically polluted.
No city in India, including the capital, has a system in place to issue health advisories especially when particulate matter levels are higher than the prescribed safe limits.
The CSE review also refutes the findings of the recently released report of IITM-SAFAR on Delhi’s pollution levels.
The report had stated that though emissions have increased by 10-20 per cent in the capital in the last four years, there is no systematic increase in air pollution levels.
CSE questioned the IITM data since all its nine monitoring stations are located around the Commonwealth Games Village. “They do not provide real time data but only provide the air quality index of this area,” said Roychowdhury.

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