CPCB told to au­dit air qual­ity mon­i­tors in city

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Gurugram - Son­ali Verma son­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com ■

High­light­ing is­sues re­gard­ing ir­reg­u­lar and al­legedly faulty air qual­ity data, the En­vi­ron­ment Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Au­thor­ity (EPCA) on Fri­day asked the Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board (CPCB) to con­duct an au­dit of its air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions in the city.

Only two mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions are op­er­ated by the CPCB in Gurugram — one in Vikas Sadan and the other in Gwal Pa­hari. The two col­lect hourly data about the city’s am­bi­ent air con­di­tions. The na­tional air qual­ity in­dex (AQI) bul­letin, re­leased by the CPCB on a daily ba­sis, re­lies on this data.

How­ever, the AQI and the pri­mary pol­lu­tant par­tic­u­late mat­ter 2.5 (PM 2.5) lev­els of the city have been spo­rad­i­cally miss­ing from the CPCB’s web­site.

The Hin­dus­tan Times had re­ported on Oc­to­ber 12 that Gurugram had been ex­cluded from the daily AQI bul­letin on 15 sep­a­rate days be­tween Septem­ber 1 and Oc­to­ber 20.

Haryana State Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board of­fi­cials have, in the past, blamed the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties on tech­ni­cal is­sues with the com­puter sys­tem. In its meet­ing on Fri­day, the EPCA pointed out that the two mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions haven’t been pre­sent­ing an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of the level of pol­lu­tion in Gurugram as they re­main out of ser­vice quite often.

Su­nita Narain, EPCA mem­ber, said, “Lately, the mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions have been re­port­ing data that shows much cleaner air in the city than ex­pected. This might be be­cause the air is cleaner around the place where the mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions are.”

“The HSPCB told us on Fri­day that 10 new air qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions will be in­stalled in the city within the next week. The EPCA has been push­ing the HSPCB to in­stall these mon­i­tors for the past two years,” she said.

An of­fi­cial from the HSPCB, who chose to re­main anony­mous, said, “We are aware that the EPCA has asked for an au­dit of the mon­i­tor­ing sta­tions and in­stru­ments. It will be done as soon as pos­si­ble. How­ever, this is just a rou­tine au­dit.”

The of­fi­cial added that the AQI read­ings were higher a few weeks ago due to il­le­gal car park­ing near the Vikas Sadan mon­i­tor­ing sta­tion. “This was re­moved a cou­ple of weeks ago and, since then, the AQI has im­proved,” he said.

How­ever, sci­en­tist VK Shukla, from the CPCB’s air qual­ity man­age­ment di­vi­sion, said that the board hasn’t re­ceived any writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the EPCA yet, and would act on it when it does. He, how­ever, con­firmed that the mat­ter was dis­cussed in Fri­day’s meet­ing.

NEWDELHI:The next time air qual­ity plum­mets in Delhi, au­thor­i­ties may not opt for a com­plete ban on con­struc­tion and in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties across the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion (NCR), as was done in the first week of Novem­ber.

In­stead these ac­tiv­i­ties may only be banned at ‘pol­lu­tion hotspots’ ini­tially, the Supreme Court-ap­pointed En­vi­ron­ment Pol­lu­tion (Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol) Au­thor­ity (EPCA) said on Fri­day.

“We have re­ceived a rec­om­men­da­tion from the task force headed by the Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board (CPCB) that the next time air qual­ity turns se­vere in Delhi, in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties should be shut down in those ar­eas where the pol­lu­tion lev­els were high. We are se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing this,” said Su­nita Narain, mem­ber of EPCA.

Hin­dus­tan Times had ear­lier re­ported that the CPCB-headed task force had rec­om­mended a ‘hotspot-first ap­proach’ should the air qual­ity in Delhi en­ter ‘se­vere’ zone again. If such a lo­ca­tion-spe­cific clam­p­down fails to im­prove the air qual­ity, the ban would be ex­tended to other parts of NCR, of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said. At least 15 such pol­lu­tion ‘hotspots’ in Delhi and an­other six in the NCR towns have been iden­ti­fied, the of­fi­cial added.

In Novem­ber, the EPCA had banned con­struc­tion ac­tiv­i­ties across Delhi-NCR for 12 days after air qual­ity plum­meted across NCR. En­try of trucks and in­dus­trial ac­tiv­i­ties in Mundka were also stopped for a few days.

“Con­struc­tion, in­dus­tries and en­try of trucks are all eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties that can­not be banned across the city for too long a pe­riod. Hence, the pro­posal is to clamp down on such ac­tiv­i­ties only in pol­lu­tion hotspots where air qual­ity is foulest,” a mem­ber of EPCA, who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied, said.

A ‘hotspot-based’ ap­proach is how­ever not new to Delhi. When the Graded Re­sponse Ac­tion Plan was rolled out on Oc­to­ber 15, this year EPCA had asked at least eight of its mem­bers to visit some of the most pol­luted spots in the city such as Anand Vi­har, Pun­jabi Bagh, Mundka and CRRI Mathura Road and sub­mit re­ports based on ob­ser­va­tions.

On Satur­day, EPCA chair­man Bhure Lal will visit some pol­luted ar­eas of Delhi. On Mon­day he will visit in­dus­trial ar­eas of Narela and Bawana and on Tues­day he will visit Anand Vi­har.

YO­GEN­DRA KU­MAR/HT PHOTO

■ Garbage burn­ing in an open field in Gurugram on Fri­day. EPCA says the city’s air qual­ity mon­i­tors are in­ac­cu­rate.

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