New Delhi: Amid concerns over Delhi’s growing pollution levels, the government on Wednesday said it has decided to put in place a unified air quality monitoring system to ensure that “authenticated” information is available to people even as green bodies asked the government to make their intent behind “reevaluating” the pollution data public.

The Union Environment Ministry said the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and IMD – the three agencies monitoring air quality in Delhi -have also developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) of data “validation, analysis and dissemination” and gave comprehensive details as to how it would work.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Shortly after the move, Greenpeace India said that the the government needs to make their intent behind reevaluating the pollution data public.

“MoEF (Environment Ministry) together with MoES (Ministry of Earth Sciences) and DPCC have decided to put in position a unified system of air quality monitoring in Delhi to ensure authenticated air quality information to the public at large, given that three agencies – CPCB, DPCC and IMD monitor air quality,” an official statement said.

This comes after a joint meeting, chaired by Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, was held today which was attended by officials of Environment Ministry, CPCB, DPCC and IMD.

“The government needs to make their intent behind reevaluating the pollution data public. If at all they are trying to fudge data, it will be a defeating purpose for themselves as there will be questions raised by environment monitoring groups who are simultaneously tracking pollution levels,” Aishwarya Madineni, Campaigner, Greenpeace India told Firstpost.

She added that India is still in denial about the alarming pollution levels in the national capital.

“Our government should take the learning from China in terms of how the city is already moving ahead. It’s pollution levels have reduced, they have put in place a 5-year plan, monitoring systems and an alarm system (to warn of high pollution levels),” she had told Firstpost.

Meanwhile elaborating about the process, the ministry today said that data from monitoring stations of CPCB, DPCC and IMD will undergo basic data quality checks first at the station level using in-built software. It would then be transmitted to CPCB “every hour” through an automated system.

“Running average concentration values (01 and 08 hourly for CO, 08 hourly for O3 and 24 hourly for PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and others as per National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

“…for all the monitoring stations will be calculated through an automated system at CPCB. These running average values would be disseminated continuously on hourly basis,” the official statement said, adding that existing continuous data reporting would continue.

All this comes after media reports suggested that the DPCC was allegedly rapped for releasing raw air quality data. The Union Environment Ministry also decided that DPCC’s data would be validated by CPCB before it is released online, the reports suggested.

Serious concern was raised today in Rajya Sabha over the rising air pollution in Delhi, with a Congress member saying that many countries have reduced the tenure of their diplomats here due to the problem.

The Environment Ministry said that in addition, CPCB would further analyse the data from all the monitoring stations on daily basis.

“Analysis would include average and range of air pollution levels, exceedance from respective notified standards and overall city air quality for various parameters along with possible explanations. Such analysed data would be available for the previous day,” the Ministry said.

It said that DPCC will disseminate the authenticated air quality information. The Ministry had yesterday said that a joint team drawing members from each organisation will be formed to evolve SoP while the unified system is expected to be positioned in maximum two weeks’ time.

The green NGO has collated data from various studies to give perspective about Beijing and Delhi in terms of parameters of pollution and mitigation plans.

It had said that Delhi’s air pollution is worst than that of the Chinese capital and has called for stringent targets for industrial emissions and an action plan to protect citizens from air pollution.

PTI

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Air pollution: Centre to set up unified air quality monitoring system in Delhi