The national capital will have 10 more pollution monitoring stations before next winter to help area-wise micro handling of its air quality which, according to a WHO assessment, is the worst among world’s top cities.
Subsequently, another 10 stations will be set up as part of a plan to have at least three such monitoring points in each of the Delhi districts, government sources said on Friday.
The new stations will be located in areas such as Greater Kailash, Defence Colony, Vasant Kunj, Qutub Institutional Area, Okhla, Najafgarh, and Paschim Vihar, among others.
The air pollution data in the capital is currently taken from 28 monitoring stations – four run by Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), eight operated by the MeT department and the rest by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
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The decision to install more stations comes after the Supreme Court approved the CPCB’s “graded response action plan”, notified last week and enforced partially on Friday. The plan outlines measures based on air quality — moderate to poor, very poor, severe, and severe-plus or emergency. A separate set of action plan has been suggested for each category.
The top court in December last year had asked authorities to install real-time and manual pollution monitoring stations in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to check air quality for the graded response.
According to the SC-approved graded action plan, the entire national capital region (NCR) will be treated as one. Authorities and experts have warned that the landlocked city’s air quality cannot improve unless adequate measures are taken in the whole of NCR, which involves territories governed by neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
A Delhi government official said the process to have 20 more fixed monitoring stations in place has started, and the tendering procedure is expected to start in February.
“A bid manager has already been appointed for the tendering process. These monitoring stations will help us get a comprehensive picture of air pollution in Delhi, especially during winter, when the city’s air quality worsens. We want to ensure that each Delhi district has at least three stations,” the official told Hindustan Times.
The city of about 20 million people has been struggling to clean up its air that contains a toxic cocktail of dust, smoke and gases from vehicle and factory exhausts. The condition worsens every autumn and winter as the city, buffeted by farmers burning crop stalks in neighbouring states and atmospheric changes, records higher levels of air pollution.
“In a big city like Delhi, the air quality is not the same at various points. For example, Anand Vihar with high volume of vehicular traffic is one of the most polluted corners of the city while at Jor Bagh in the heart of the city the pollution levels are well under control,” an environment department official told Hindustan Times, underlining the need for an area-wise micro monitoring of the air quality.
“More monitoring stations will help us in a thorough understanding of the nature of pollution in various parts of the city,” he said.
In a meeting called by Environment Pollution Control and Prevention Authority (EPCA) on Friday, it was stated that Haryana will get 34 stations, Uttar Pradesh 16, while Rajasthan is eyeing 11 monitoring spots in the next nine months.
A fixed-automatic station where air pollutants like Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), PM2.5 and PM10 are being monitored regularly, costs Rs 1.2 crore with 10% yearly operation and maintenance cost, a CPCB official said.