Govt launches air pollution warning system

Govt launches air pollution warning system

The central government on Monday launched air quality early warning system

The central government on Monday launched air quality early warning system to alert the administration about the air pollution levels in Delhi and surrounding areas 48 hours in advance so that emergency remedial actions can be taken.

Scientists who created the system said the same could be put to use in any other city if the local government wish to.

The alert system in the national capital region becomes operational at a time when farmers in Punjab and Haryana have begun to put their fields on fire in order to clear them of the stubble after paddy harvest so that the fields can be readied quickly to plant the wheat crop.

It would forewarn the Central Pollution Control Board about any rise in the level of air pollutants like dust particles and oxides of carbon, sulphur and nitrogen. Based on the inputs, the CPCB can take actions.

“We get the best results 48 hours in advance. The reliability would be less when we try to generate the warning 72 hours in advance,” Ravi Shankar Nanjundiah, director of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, one of the institutes involved in creating the system, told DH.

The data is being sourced from multiple agencies ranging from NASA as well as European and Japanese authorities. Fire data would come from American MODIS satellite while European, Japanese and Indian satellites would supply data on dust flow and other weather parameters.

Local pollution observatories would ground local level air pollution data. All such data would be fed into a computer model to generate the warning.

“We benchmarked the model with November 2017 and June 2018 air pollution scenario in Delhi. The error margin is less than 10%,” said K J Ramesh, IMD director general.

It was the dreaded November 2017 smog enveloping the National Capital Region for days that brought global attention on Delhi's extremely poor quality air. The situation was so bad last year that schools had to be shut and there was nearly 25% jump in the number of patients in the hospital OPDs as the entire city was turned into a gas chamber.

This time, officials claimed, the situation was better. “The stubble burning cases were 699 (till Oct 11) as against 2,635 in 2017 and 4,126 in 2016. Similarly in Haryana, the number of stubble burning cases till now is 923 compared to 1,527 in 2017 and 1,931 in 2018,” said Environment Secretary C K Mishra.