Updated: February 14, 2021 1:28:28 am
Over the next few months, Delhi is expected to have a clearer picture of what is causing the spike in air pollution levels every second, which will guide the government’s efforts to improve the air quality.
A new project to identify sources of pollution in real time is scheduled to be tabled before the Delhi Cabinet soon for clearance. It received Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s approval last Tuesday.
Experts involved in the project — from IITs of Delhi and Kanpur and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) — said the plan is to carry out a year-long study using equipment and technologies that are already existing and also train staff of the Delhi government to use it on their own afterwards.
Under the project, a ‘super site’ in the form of a static monitoring station and a moving mobile lab will capture the “chemical species” of fine particles suspended in the air, said Sumit Sharma, director of the earth science and climate change division at TERI.
By identifying chemical characteristics of particulate matter (PM) in the air — whether they are composed of heavy metals or other elements — experts will be able to identify the activities that are contributing to air pollution, such as construction, industries, waste burning, among others.
“Delhi is a big city and there are several pockets where sources of pollution vary from one another. For instance, the sources in Okhla will be different from that in Rohini. A mobile site will be helpful in capturing this,” Sharma said.
The ‘super site’ will be a station fitted with measurement devices to detect pollutants suspended in the air and their composition. The mobile site will also be fitted with the same devices but will capture make up of only PM pollutants of size 2.5 micrometres (PM 2.5).
“The location of the super site is yet to be decided. It will have to be chosen very carefully as it should be representative of the city. We will select it after discussions with the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and all other stakeholders,” Sharma said.
In addition to capturing the composition of particles suspended in the air, experts will also implement dispersion modelling methods to identify where pollution sources are coming from, whether they are from outside the capital or within, Sharma added.
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