As Delhi air thickens, govt still awaits study on pollution to draft policy

The Indian Express , Thursday, March 12, 2015
Correspondent : Aniruddha Ghosal
While Delhi’s air quality continues to deteriorate, the Delhi government is waiting for a study it had commissioned IIT Kanpur to conduct in 2013. The project, “Source Apportionment Study of PM2.5 and PM10”, is expected to lay the foundation for a much-needed policy regarding air pollution.

A senior Delhi government official said the study was commissioned in April 2013 inorder to obtain data required to formulate a policy to control and reduce air pollution and initiate a second-generation air action plan.

The study will also look at the contribution of industries, vehicles, burning of waste and leaves and construction dust towards air pollution.

“Levels of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, suspended particulated matter and nitrous oxides have increased rapidly in the past years. The causes for this have to be investigated,” said the official.

A senior Central Pollution Control Board official explained that “source apportionment studies” are based on measurements and tracking down of the sources of pollution through receptor modelling. “It helps in identifying the exact source of pollution and the extent of its contribution,” he said.

The last such study was done by Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in 2010.

The 2010 study had noted that “management of air polluting sources will be limited if they are not only aligned with nearby urban centres (which includes area, point and vehicular sources) and with neighbouring states and with the country as a whole.”

“A number of issues regarding the sources of air pollution remains unclear. For instance, the impact of polluting agencies in Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad haven’t been sufficiently assessed,” the official said.

While the environment department said, initially, the IIT-K study was expected to be completed within 18 months, it is now expected in the coming months.

But the department admitted that in the absence of a clear policy framework, combating air pollution has been hampered.

“The air action plan has not taken off. At the time the study was commissioned, the environment department had also moved a cabinet note regarding the second-generation air action plan. But after the Congress government collapsed, little work has been done,” said a source in the government.


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