Air pollution higher than in '13

City govt may use drones to check encroachment in forest areas

Air pollution caused by particles with less than 10 micrometres in diametre has risen in the city as compared to last year even as the government claims to be taking counter steps, including using drones to protect the green cover.

Environment and Forest Secretary Sanjiv Kumar on Thursday released data on ambient air quality levels which revealed that air particles of less than 10 micrometres in diametre (PM10) have grown from 282 micrograms per cubic meter of air (µg/m3) in 2013 to 302 µg/m3 this year.

This year’s PM 10 level – in terms of annual standard – is almost five times of the national standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

The PM10 particles are so small that they can get into the lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. The figure for fine particles (PM2.5) which are less than 2.5 micrometres in diametre also rose marginally from 136 µg/m3 in 2013 to 138 µg/m3  in 2014.

The PM2.5 levels in the city are also three times of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards – Annual Standard.

 Barring the particulates, the levels of other air pollutants – including sulphur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide – have come down as compared to last year, Kumar claimed, outlining the steps taken by the government.

“We are expecting better air quality this winter due to the steps we have taken,” said the environment secretary.

With the phasing out of 15-year-old private vehicles as proposed by green tribunal and other measures we will be able to get good results, he said.

“We have sent a proposal to use drones, like the ones used by police, to monitor encroachment in forests,” he said, claiming that the green cover in the city has grown to 20.08 per cent of geographical area which is 179.8 sq km.

“A study has been awarded to Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur for studying various air pollutants and their role in causing air pollution and suggesting various measures to improve the quality of air,” he said, adding that vehicular emissions may account for 70 per cent of air pollution in the city by 2021.

Prohibiting trucks using Delhi for transit, tightening of pollution under control norms, introduction of Euro-5 vehicle emission norms and solar power promotion are some steps we are taking, he said.

Sanjiv Kumar disagreed with some scaring air quality findings by an NGO claiming that the huge difference in the government data and the NGO’s data could be due to readings being taken at peak pollution hour by the latter.

 “We follow the national norms,” he said, explaining that the data shared is based on annual arithmetic mean of minimum 104 measurements in a year taken twice a week 24 hourly at uniform interval.   

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