A more comprehensive picture of air pollution in Delhi-NCR is likely to be available only in January when 20 new monitoring stations become operational in areas of Haryana bordering the capital, four months behind schedule, an official said today. Experts said that with more data from these stations, the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) common air quality index (AQI) for Delhi-NCR would accurately reflect the extent of pollution in the region.
The process, which was to be winded up before the onset of winter, got delayed as the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB), failed to meet the deadline of October, first due to the absence of a chairperson and later due to queries raised by a panel scrutinising the technical bids.
A senior HSPCB official told PTI that three interested parties, which made technical bids for the stations, including one each in Gurgaon and Faridabad, have been given a week’s time to respond to the queries. “If the panel is satisfied with the response, the financial bids will open. Then, within 10-15 days orders will be placed and then it may take around 60 days for the infrastructure to be set up as the equipments will have to be imported. Once it is done, it will not take much time for installation,” the official said. The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, which was overseeing the issue, recently directed the HSPCB to expedite the process so that a dense monitoring network comes up by this winter itself, enabling authorities to be better prepared before the onset of winter in 2018.
Currently, pockets of Haryana falling in the NCR has six pollution monitoring stations only, which is an obstacle in developing a more comprehensive picture of air pollution as one highly-polluted spot may not always reflect the situation in other parts of the region. Uttar Pradesh, which is also setting up 14 new stations in its areas falling in the NCR, assured the EPCA that it would ensure that they were added to the region-wide monitoring network by December. In the national capital, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee has operationalised around 20 new stations and all of them would be linked with the integrated Air Quality Index mechanism of the CPCB by the end of this month, an official informed the EPCA.
The air quality index or AQI is basically a figure and a series of colour codings shared by agencies on the level of pollution. For example, the one CPCB shares ranges between 0 and 500. An AQI between 0-50 is considered Good, 51-100 Satisfactory, 101-200 Moderate, 201-300 Poor, 301-400 Very Poor, and 401-500 Severe. Each category comes with its own advisory. In case of Moderate, it warns of breathing discomfort to people with lungs, asthma and heart diseases while Severe means the air quality is so bad that it may affect even healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases.