Delhi pollution: In the wake of Delhi pollution hogging all the headlines, traffic signals will give air quality updates in every hour. This comes after Prime Minister’s Office has come out with an order in this regard. Apart from the air quality, health advisories on LED panels under a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) project. Along with traffic intersections, the project also be extended to the hospitals and Metro stations in Delhi. “Fifty traffic signals have been selected for the first phase of the initiative,” said CPCB scientist Aditya Sharma, who oversaw its rollout. He added that the PMO was behind the move. “We have covered major signals in ITO and Connaught Place, for now,” Sharma said.
The panels display hourly AQI readings and the associated health advisories. 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 might affect even healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases. The CPCB has not put up separate panels for this purpose but using the existing display boards of traffic police where short video clips on road safety are played usually.
CPCB’s air quality laboratory chief Dipankar Saha said the apex pollution regulator was in talks with the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and major hospitals in the city to put up similar panels. Information dissemination is also one of the components of the Centre-notified Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) on air pollution, which is enforced by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority. Meanwhile, the CPCB has directed the state pollution control boards of Delhi and NCR states to intensify pollution mitigation efforts in the region in view of the ASEAN summit starting tomorrow.
The government has formulated a national clear air programme to tackle increasing air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner, Parliament was informed in December. Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha had said that the Centre has formulated the National Clear Air Programme (NCAP).
“The government has formulated the NCAP as a long term time-bound national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner,” he said.
The minister said that the objective is to augment and evolve an effective ambient air quality monitoring network across the country, besides ensuring a comprehensive management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
“The NCAP focuses on a collaborative and participatory approach comprising all sources of pollution and coordination between relevant central ministries, state governments, local bodies and other stakeholders,” he said.
He said that the government has taken several steps to address air pollution which include notification of national ambient air quality standards, setting up of monitoring network for assessment of ambient air quality among others.