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Delhi to have real-time air pollution data from next year: Kejriwal

By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON OCT 17, 2019 10:51 PM IST

New Delhi

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said from April next year, Delhi will be able to provide real-time air pollution data and ascertain contribution of each source.

Kejriwal while talking about the city’s air quality, which improved marginally on Thursday, also reiterated that it is wrong to blame Delhiites alone for the city’s poor air.

At present, there are no agency in the national Capital is doing real-time source apportionment of air pollution. “We have tied up with Washington University for this and a centre has been set up near India Gate. From April, 2020, we’ll be able to provide the details of air pollution and its sources in an interval of every four hours,” he said during a press conference.

“The machine has already been installed. But, for specific outcome, one year base-level study is required. So since March, we have been collecting samples on a daily basis to prepare the base data of a year of Delhi’s air pollution,” Kejriwal said.

When asked about pollution monitoring agencies attributing Delhi’s pollution to local factors rather than stubble burning in neighbouring states, Kejriwal said the opinions expressed by various experts are correct, but are coming with different perspectives.

“Today I read an expert opinion, which was actually based on a June 2015 report by IIT-Kanpur. We can’t take a policy decision on the basis of data/findings from four years ago… Pollution in Delhi is caused by both internal and external sources. It is not right to blame the people of Delhi only for pollution. No other city has reduced pollution by 25%. Delhi has done it. People of Delhi deserve appreciation,” he said.

The chief minister added that unless there are efforts to tackle the smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states, Delhi’s problems will continue.

Dipankar Saha, former additional director of the Central Pollution Control Board, said the need of the hour is investment on a forecasting system. “Real-time analysis can generate awareness among masses. But one has to understand that air is a dynamic concept and highly dependent on meteorological behaviours. A good forecasting system will help people ascertain what preventive measures to take and how can they contribute in lessening the pollution problem,” he said.

A debate erupted between the Delhi government and experts after SAFAR, the ministry of earth science’s air quality and weather forecast service, that had earlier this week said the share of stubble burning in PM 2.5 concentration in Delhi has remained less than 10% so far. On Wednesday, Kejriwal had refuted the claim saying the attribution was “misleading”. PM 2.5 are ultra fine particles of pollutants that are most hazardous to human health.

Kejriwal cited a report prepared by ARAI-TERI in 2018 which was based on 2016-17 data and said local sources were responsible for 36% air pollution in Delhi during winters, while in summers the same sources contributed only 26%.

“The degree of pollution in the Delhi’s air due to different sources cannot be determined by any agency at present because the technique for real time source apportionment of pollution is not available. Last week, one agency stated stubble burning contributed only 1% to Delhi’s air pollution, whereas another agency claimed it was 10%. If these studies are being carried out using scientific method then how can there be such a wide variation?” the chief minister questioned.

Sumit Sharma, director TERI, said that real-time air pollution analysis is a welcome move and it will help significantly in analysing daily-basis variations.

For instance, he said, on a seasonal average basis, agriculture burning cause 5% of air pollution in Delhi.

“But that is for the full four month period between November 1 and February 28. However, in the peak crop burning period, it can go up to 40-50%. This is where daily variation analysis plays an important role,” he said.

(ends)

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