Greenpeace urges India to improve 'National Air Quality Index'

Greenpeace urges India to improve 'National Air Quality Index'

Claiming that the current information dissemination system was "unreliable", Greenpeace India today urged the government to make improvements to the National Air Quality Index (NAQI).

With Delhi faring poor in the air quality ranking, the NGO organised an event at the Dilli Haat here to inform people about the need to protect them from air pollution and to gather people's support. It was part of a clean air nation campaign.

The volunteers through interactive activities approached and informed Delhities about the threat of air pollution and relevant precautionary measures to be taken to fight this menace.

"The existing lack of information on air quality and precautionary measures may put hundreds of people's health including children and elderly at risk. People do not feel threatened by air pollution because they cannot feel the immediate health impacts.

"Government has good intentions behind setting up the National Air Quality monitoring index but the process is incomplete till people are aware and are ensuring precautionary measures like wearing masks on heavy pollution day", said Ruth D'Costa, Public Engagement Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

The NGO noted that although Delhi has become the face of air pollution, the problem exists across the country and a recent status check on NAQI1 implementation by Greenpeace found discrepancies in the investment in infrastructure.

It said that only Delhi has 10 continuous monitoring stations, Chennai, Bangalore and Lucknow have three stations each, Hyderabad has two and the 11 other cities covered by the NAQI have only one station each capable of making NAQI data available online.

"Additionally, even in Delhi, the NAQI data is rendered meaningless, as the current information dissemination system is unreliable, no agreed steps to be taken by local authorities on days with heavy pollution" and no plan for how the data can be used to inform citizens so as to equip them to fight against pollution. The initiative is incomplete if it is not action oriented, the NGO said.

Greenpeace India warned that with winter just round the corner, the problem of air pollution is likely to get severe even as people don't have access to information and existing tools like the NAQI is limited in its scope.

"Delhi government's announcement to observe the First Car Free Day in Delhi is a good initiative especially as its first such initiative by the government involving people's participation to create awareness.

"But, firstly, it is very small and limited action and importantly before taking further step, it is very crucial to bring an immediate correction in the NAQI so that it can deliver meaningful information about precautionary measures that people can take," said Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India. 

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