Like Beijing, Delhi residents may get pollution updates on phone from next year
Sending out pollution alerts through newspapers, TV and radio to advise people with respiratory and cardiac ailments to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement is a part of graded plan.delhi Updated: Oct 25, 2017 00:17 IST
Starting next winter, Delhi residents can receive email and SMS alerts, and health advisory on their mobile phones when the pollution levels shoot up.
On the lines of China’s capital Beijing, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution and Control Authority (EPCA) is working to set up an early warning system for citizens so that they can take appropriate steps to safeguard themselves.
A Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP)–a monitoring and response system for different levels of pollution–was put in place by the EPCA on October 17 to counter “very poor” and “severe” categories marked in the Air Quality Index (AQI).
Diesel generator sets were banned in Delhi and operations of the Badarpur thermal power plant and polluting brick kilns were stopped.
Sending out pollution alerts through newspapers, TV and radio to advise people with respiratory and cardiac ailments to avoid polluted areas and restrict outdoor movement is a part of graded plan.
Such alerts have to be sent out when the air quality turns ‘very poor’.
“We are trying to come up with a more formalised system to issue alerts and advisories directly to the people. It could be planned next year,” said Sunita Narain, a member of EPCA and director general of the Centre for Science and Environment.
For now, real-time pollution status is available through the AQI. The websites of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), EPCA and SAFAR also provide health advisories according to the pollution levels.
Beijing follows a combat plan for air pollution–a four-tier colour-coded system introduced after the city faced a deadly winter smog in 2013. The red alert, the most serious warning level on the Chinese system, was first issued in December, 2015. When pollution reaches this level, Beijing suspends classes in schools, shuts polluting industries, starts vehicle rationing and other measures.
Beijing sends out pollution alerts on social media, television, radio and mobile apps. The information is circulated through government accounts on Weibo (China’s Twitter) and WeChat.
Back home, Ahmedabad was the first city in India to come up with a similar early warning system in May this year. “We have more than 1,000 email addresses. SMS alerts are sent out in bulk to around 200 schools, doctors, regulators and environmentalists to keep them updated about the pollution level and remind them of the dos and don’ts,” said Dr Chirag Shah, deputy health officer of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and nodal officer of the project.
Such alert systems have become crucial for Indian cities due to unabated pollution over the last few years. A report published by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health last week stated that the country had the highest number of pollution-related deaths in the world – 2.5 million of the total 9 million worldwide in 2015.