How good is Gurgaon air? No one knows

  • Gulam Jeelani, Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Jan 15, 2016 16:31 IST
The continuous ambient air quality monitoring station near Rajiv Chowk, off the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, does not monitor PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels in real-time. (Abhinav Saha/HT Photo)

How good is the air quality in Gurgaon, given that the condition in neighbouring Delhi makes one want to hold their breath? There is no way to know as the sole air quality monitoring station in Gurgaon does not have the equipment to do real-time recording.

The continuous ambient air quality monitoring (CAAQM) station near Rajiv Chowk, off the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, does not monitor PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels in real-time, without which one cannot get a clear picture of the pollution levels in Gurgaon.

“The station can monitor only one of the two (PM 2.5 and PM 10) at a time,” said an official at HSPCB’s headquarters in Chandigarh.

Home to over 250 Fortune 500 companies, Gurgaon has done little to keep a tab on its rising pollution levels, especially when Delhi and Noida are working in a steadfast manner to clean the air. The concern assumes significance as the state government is scheduled to host its first Happening Haryana Global Investors’ Summit in Gurgaon in two months.

The Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) recorded a major increase in PM 2.5 levels between the last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of December last year.

The board recorded 83.65 micrograms per cubic meter (mgpcm) in November, which shot up to 106.75 mgpcm in the first two weeks of December.

“The problem with Gurgaon is that due to lack of public transport and last-mile connectivity, people have no option but to use private transport. This leads to congestion and pollution. One station will not give us an exact data,” said Bhure Lal, chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).

“It is alarming that a city, which is the highest contributor to Haryana’s GDP, does not even have basic equipment to monitor pollution levels. It seems as if the pollution control board is least bothered about residents’ health,” said Sanjay Kaushik, an environmentalist and president of NGO Uthaan.

The station in Rajiv Chowk keeps a check on ambient air — the natural state of air that humans and animals breathe. Experts say this is insufficient as it does not give the exact composition of air, which varies depending on local factors such as elevation, pollution and smog.

“Rajiv Chowk obviously doesn’t reflect what type of air people in Gurgaon breathe. It is high time we have multiple monitoring centres to get exact figures,” said Dr Sewa Ram, associate professor of transport planning in School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.

The government now plans to set up a second station in Cyber City, but the HSPCB wants more funds from the Centre as one monitoring station costs Rs 1.5 crore.

“We have asked for one more monitoring station and hope that the government sanctions it this year,” the HSPCB official said.

That all is not well with the air in Gurgaon, is discernible from the increase in respiratory ailments during the winters. Doctors at the Gurgaon Civil Hospital said there has been at least 20%-30% increase in the number of patients with respiratory ailments in December as compared to November.

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