Kejriwal unveils study, devices to help combat air pollution in Delhi
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal unveiled the source apportionment study, a supersite, a van and a portal to gather, analyse and share air pollution data in the capital
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday unveiled a critical scientific study and a comprehensive set up commissioned by the state government to identify various sources of air pollution in the city as well as record their contribution in real time.
Described by the chief minister as an “important leap” in the state’s fight against pollution, the study will help the government plan short-term and long-term measures to combat bad air. Kejriwal inaugurated the “Supersite” -- a scientific data gathering and analysis set up -- as well as an air quality monitoring van at the Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya in central Delhi’s Rouse Avenue.
The site and the van will help carry out a real-time source apportionment study on air pollution, providing details of the contribution of each different sources, scientists involved in the study said. They added that there will also be a forecasting system giving pollution load for the next three days.
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“Now we will be able to determine pollution sources on an hourly basis and forecast hourly air quality data for the next three days. With this, we will find how much of the pollution is caused by vehicles, industries and biomass burning and make anti-pollution strategies accordingly,” Kejriwal said.
The study is centred on gathering data on emissions leading to PM2.5 pollution. Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) are ultra fine particles that can embed deep in human lungs and cause a variety of lung and heart diseases. PM2.5 is the primary pollutant in Delhi’s air, according to Central Pollution Control Board.
Explaining the importance of gathering data in real-time, Kejriwal said, “The key reason for pollution on Monday may differ from the reason on Tuesday. Until we calculate the impact made by a source of pollution in real-time, we cannot have an effective policy. Therefore, we have asked these bodies (agencies who will carry out the study) to help us carry out real-time source apportionment. Besides this, it will also provide us with a forecast of what the major factors of pollution in the coming days could be,” he added.
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The study is being led by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, with IIT Delhi and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) both involved in providing insights and technical assistance. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) is the nodal body for the project.
Prior to this, Delhi had experimented with the concept thrice. The first source apportionment study was conducted by IIT-Kanpur in 2016-17, and then by The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) in 2017-18. The state government then asked the Washington University in 2019 to carry out the study. However, it was scrapped in 2020, with the government saying the study was “unsatisfactory”.
The programme was revived again, with the Delhi Cabinet approving the study in October 2021. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was subsequently signed with the three technical bodies.
Kejriwal cited how steps to tackle pollution were based on years-old studies and said, “Those have no relevance. The real-time apportionment study has shown that the sources of pollution change on an hourly basis,” he said.
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The AAP government has taken several steps to reduce pollution in the national capital, the chief minister said.
“We introduced the Electric Vehicle Policy in 2020 and electric vehicle sales are the highest in Delhi. We have procured several new buses and, by 2025, 80% of Delhi’s bus fleet will be electric. We have a tree transplantation policy and Delhi’s tree cover has risen to 23.6% higher than the national average of 20%,” he said.
Besides the Supersite, the van and the forecasting system, the chief minister also launched the r-aasman portal where the general public can access the real-time data. The dashboard can be accessed at http://raasman.com/dashboard/realtime_source.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai, who attended the inauguration, said the government will work on NCR-centric pollution action plans using data gathered through the mobile van and the Supersite.
“We will move ahead based on the advice and guidance of the scientists of IIT Kanpur and IIT Delhi and the data they gather. We will discuss the data with the governments of NCR and plan to control pollution accordingly,” Rai said.
Experts said the study will help the government plan long-term solutions to combat pollution. “Such a real-time source apportionment study, if executed accurately, can allow long-term strategies to be tailored around it. Based on the data gathered, action on the ground, including localised plans can also be made,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy at the Centre for Science and Environment.
Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said that any step in the fight against pollution is a “welcome step”, but the experience of the last eight years shows that the Delhi government is not in fighting air pollution.
“Even today, when we all know that pollution peaks at places such as Anand Vihar, old Delhi, Okhla, Najafgarh Road, Peeragarhi, etc, the Delhi government has chosen a place such as Rouse Avenue, which has comparatively much cleaner air to set up a monitoring centre,” he said.