SUBJECT : Pollution

Exactly a month after launching the national Air Quality Index (AQI), which had its share of teething problems, the Union environment ministerPrakash Javadekar on Wednesday announced the release of a daily air quality bulletin for 11 cities, including Delhi, based on prominent pollutants.

He also said the Centre would launch its "fresh air as birthright" awareness campaign from 20 cities across the country in June.

"The index, showing air quality in these cities, is based on a quite comprehensive and robust system of data collection at different monitoring stations. It shows overall air quality of a particular city", said Javadekar in an interview to the TOI.

Not shying away from sharing details which show "severe" and "very poor" air quality of Faridabad and Delhi, respectively, Javadekar said, "We are quite transparent in sharing those data. We have been sincerely making efforts to curb air pollution. I would also appeal people to help us in our endeavor to clean the air in Delhi and other cities".

AQI bulletin is based on 24-hour average value in case a city has multiple monitoring locations. Air quality may show variations across locations. Though averaging is not a scientifically sound approach, this method is being followed for the sake of simplicity.

Asked about air quality data, which is being collected by multiple agencies including the US embassy monitoring station, Javadekar said, "I don't want to dispute anybody's data whether the city's air is three-fold bad or four-fold bad. Bad is bad. We have to contain it".

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had, in fact, started compiling city-wise comparative index from May 1 but decided not to announce it till the time it tests and re-tests it while checking its system and related network. It finally started uploading it on its website with Javadekar on Wednesday defending its decision to go ahead with it despite public criticism on bad air quality in Delhi and elsewhere.

Javadekar said, "Even in this crisis situation, we had decided to launch the AQI system because we believe in transparency and honest action. We want to tackle the issue, keeping people in the loop. After all, they will also have to play their part in curbing air pollution".


Source: 7 May, 2015, The Times of India