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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Coming up at key locations: Air quality info, smog alerts

Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 12, 2012
First Published: 00:08 IST(12/11/2012) | Last Updated: 00:10 IST(12/11/2012)

Taking a cue from its global counterparts, Delhi will soon install electronic display boards for air quality index, issue smog alerts and health advisory for places such as Connaught Place, ITO, Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, ISBTs and Rajouri Garden.

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The move will help the elderly, children and those suffering from breathing problems to take required precautions.

A system of mobile monitoring at pollution/smog hotspots and traffic intensive areas will also be put in place. The government has decided to expand the capacity and quality of air pollution monitoring. Currently, monitoring is done only at select locations in the Capital.    

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Capital's environment department have to execute the project by January next year as per a five-year draft action plan prepared by the Delhi government and the Centre for Science and Environment.

"We have also commissioned a study on the impact of pollution on public health," said an official.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director in-charge of the air pollution and transportation programme at the CSE, said, "Smog alerts are the need of the hour both for the people to take precaution and the government to take remedial measures. The administration cannot keep blaming the weather at the expense of public health."

In case of a smog alert, people with respiratory or cardiac disorders can take their medication and minimise strenuous outdoor activity. "They can avoid driving, opt for public transport, cycling or walking," the government official said.

In Delhi, routine monitoring is done for sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter of size less than 10 and 2.5 microns and carbon monoxide. But monitoring for ozone, lead, ammonia, benzene, arsenic and nickel is limited. 

"To protect public health, we need to overhaul our air monitoring system. Standards have been revised and tightened for key pollutants. We will review the existing stations, their locations, parameters and frequency of monitoring. We want to expand the monitoring of particulate matter (2.5), ozone and some key toxics," he said. 

The Capital has, over the years, been witnessing rise in pollution levels. The situation became worse in recent days as an unprecedented spell of haze continue to trouble people.

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