New pollution norms catch Delhi off-guard
The Capital is hopelessly ill-prepared to implement new air-pollution norms. In Delhi, the Central Pollution Control Board has only one machine to continuously monitor finer particles called particulate matter 2.5 or PM 2.5 in the air, and just two machines to monitor ground-level ozone. Avishek G Dastidar reports...delhi Updated: Nov 19, 2009 00:29 IST
The Capital is hopelessly ill-prepared to implement new air-pollution norms.
In Delhi, the Central Pollution Control Board has only one machine to continuously monitor finer particles called particulate matter 2.5 or PM 2.5 in the air, and just two machines to monitor ground-level ozone.
Both these pollutants were included as new air-pollution parameters on Wednesday.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) is worse, as it does not have any data on either of the two pollutants.
It does not have continuous air-monitoring stations of its own and has outsourced the job of pollution monitoring at 40 locations in the city.
And at all the 40 locations, the average levels of toxic gas nitrogen oxide (NOx) are much higher than the new norms.
In fact, by the new air-pollution limits, NOx levels in Sarojini Nagar in South Delhi and Chandni Chowk in central Delhi have reached “critical” levels, said Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a research and advocacy group.
On top of all this, the levels of ground-level ozone is on the rise in Delhi, where every day 1100 vehicles are added to the city’s fleet of 56 lakh vehicles, the country’s highest.
Ozone is a toxic gas that forms as a result of intense vehicular pollution and hot temperatures.
As per CPCB data, ozone levels this summer reached never-before levels, breaching the permissible limits prescribed in the newly notified norms.
Simply put, the new, stricter norms have caught Delhi off-guard barely a year before the Commonwealth Games.
“We will come out with a policy to implement new air-pollution norms shortly,” said Delhi Environment Secretary Dharmendra.
The DPCC has planned to come up with four new monitoring stations.
“Without comprehensive monitoring and enforcement, the battle against pollution is lost already,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director, CSE. “How are we going to contain pollution if we do not even know exactly how much pollution there is?”
“We have for building four new monitoring stations,” Dharmendra said.
Meanwhile, the levels of pollutants especially NOx and Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) have gone back to the levels they were before Compressed Natural Gas was introduced for public transport in 2002.