The capital seems to have woken up to the clear and present danger posed by rising levels of air-pollution. It plans to put into place a world-class air-pollution measuring mechanism capable of monitoring even the tiniest harmful particle in the air.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) will soon commission six new high-tech machines that can measure even the smallest toxic particle floating in the air known as PM 2.5 (particulate matter only 2.5 microns in size — about one-seventh the diameter of human hair).
Known as “fine particles”, these can breach the deepest parts of the lungs and be more harmful than any other known particulate matter.
Imported from the US, each machine costs Rs 5 lakhs and will be installed at Nizamuddin and Siri Fort in the South, Janakpuri and Pitampura in the West and Shahdara and Shahajadabagh in the East, within a fortnight.
This apart, the CPCB is about to start three new, automated air-pollution monitoring stations to take the total number of such stations in Delhi to seven.
“We are looking at areas like IIT-Delhi, GTB Hospital, Dwarka and Delhi Milk Scheme at Shadipur, out of which we will select three locations,” he said.
Will extensive monitoring lead to cleaner air in Delhi? “Comprehensive monitoring is the first step towards pollution control,” says Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director of Centre for Science and Environment. “Data generated through so many monitoring points will be more representative of air quality and help frame stricter policies,” she said. India still does not have legal norms for air pollutants. “Recently we have drafted a norm, which is yet to be notified,” said CPCB director SD Makhijani. And how does it impact the ongoing diesel debate? “Diesel vehicles emit more finer toxic particles, so we will now have a more accurate picture of diesel pollution,” she said.