Monitoring of air quality, which forms the basis of the graded response action plan to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR, has been patchy for long. In the 46,208 square kilometre area that forms the Delhi-NCR, there are only 51 air quality monitoring stations. Of these, 28 are in Delhi alone. Gurgaon district has only two air quality monitors — one run by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and one by the India Meteorological Department. Noida, at present, has only two stations. The scenario, however, is even worse outside the Delhi-NCR region.
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This has prompted the CPCB to increase its monitoring capacity.
According to Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) chairperson, Bhure Lal, 55 more monitoring stations will be set up in the NCR region in the coming year. The DPCC is also in the process of adding 20 monitoring stations in Delhi.
The graded response plan, notified by the Union environment ministry earlier this month, talks about specific actions taken to control air pollution in any region based on the existing air quality.
Data available on the CPCB website says there are three monitoring stations in Alwar. Officials say two are being set up in Bharatpur. Haryana and Uttar Pradesh also have low coverage.
Air quality experts have been demanding better coverage in all states, especially those that lie north of the Vindhyas, for years. “If averages from only a few stations are taken into account, we do not get a clear picture. Delhi has its ‘advantages’ in this sense that we have a clear idea of which areas are most polluted and which are better off. We lose this advantage in NCR,” said a Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) official.
“Our stations are coming up in Ghaziabad, Hapur and Greater Noida in a few months. All 13 districts of Haryana will soon get one automatic station and two manual stations. Getting new stations is a tedious process. All instruments are sourced from abroad and hence the process will take time. Implementing the graded response is challenging but it can be done… A proper system needs to be developed to set the ball rolling,” said Dipankar Saha, in-charge, CPCB.