Only 12 Per Cent Of India’s Census Cities And Towns Have Air Quality Monitoring Stations

Only 12 Per Cent Of India’s Census Cities And Towns Have Air Quality Monitoring Stations

New Delhi, July 7 (TNA) Of India’s 4,041 census cities and towns, a mere 12 per cent have air quality monitoring systems. What’s more, only 200 of these cities monitor all six key criteria pollutants. This is when compliance with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and clean air targets under the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) requires robust air quality monitoring. A new analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released here today has laid bare this abysmal state of the country’s air quality monitoring network.

The analysis points out that this means nearly 47 per cent of the country’s population remains outside the maximum radius of the air quality monitoring grid (manual and real time combined), while 62 per cent is outside that of the real-time monitoring network.

“Limited air quality monitoring makes it challenging to identify non-attainment status of a vast number of towns/cities and regions and also impedes effective evaluation of clean air action and improvement in air quality needed for evaluation of performance of clean air action, especially under the 15th Finance Commission grant. More harmful PM2.5 and ozone are not considered for compliance under NCAP due to limited monitoring and data. It is necessary to ensure more equitable distribution of monitors and adoption of hybrid monitoring with a standardised and certified air sensor network and satellite-based monitoring with appropriate protocols for maximum and cost effective coverage of population to support action,” says Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, CSE.

“The current monitoring network also faces the challenge of inadequate data generation, lack of data completeness and poor quality control of monitoring. This makes air quality trend assessment difficult to establish compliance with clean air targets. The current urban monitoring grid is highly concentrated in a few big cities and there are vast areas in other regions with no monitoring. This needs to be rationalised to cover a wider population and habitats to support implementation of clean air action plans, provide information to public about the daily risks and design emergency response and longer term action,” adds Avikal Somvanshi, senior programme manager, urban lab, CSE.

The study covers 883 manual stations and 409 real time stations. It has accessed and analysed publicly available data from the websites and publications of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) as of December 31, 2022. The extent of population coverage by the monitoring grid and the population estimates are based on the 100 m x 100 m spatial distribution of population in 2020, developed by the WorldPop research programme of the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Southampton.

The number of manual monitoring stations has doubled since 2010: There were 411 manual stations operating in 2010. According to the CPCB website, currently, there are 883 operating manual stations in 379 cities/towns in 28 states and seven Union territories (UTs) of the country. The CPCB has discontinued its practice of publishing station-wise monitoring data after the NAMP 2020 report; in 2020, the NAMP report had monitoring information from about 711 stations (despite 818 stations listed on record for that year).

The News Agency