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Easy to Read Air Pollution Index Launched
Apr 07, 2015

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) for monitoring the quality of air in major urban centres across the country on a real-time basis and enhancing public awareness for taking mitigative action. This much-awaited measure was needed to protect public health and catalyse pollution emergency measures in cities.

  • The AQI has been at present launched for 10 cities—Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. 

  • The Union Environment Ministry proposes to extend the measurement of air quality to 22 state capitals and 44 other cities with a population exceeding one million.

  • It will have one number, one colour and one description to inform the public about air quality in a simple and easily understandable format.

  • The index will measure eight pollutants in the air but will be reporting the data on nearly a real-time basis for only the cities with automated pollutant measuring devices. For others the data would be a week old – too old to help any immediate management. 

  • There are only about 40 automated pollution-measuring machines across India at the moment. 

  • The index will permit citizens to find out easily if there is a spike in any one or more of the specific pollutants. 

  • The index website will also provide the degree of danger that the spike could cause to public health based on a simple colour coding

  • Standards for construction-related dust would be brought out soon. Dust from construction is one of the key components of the overall pollution load in cities such as Delhi. 

  • The AQI may prove to be a major initiative for improving air quality in urban areas as it would enhance public awareness and involvement and create a competitive environment among cities to take steps for air pollution-mitigation.

  • The AQI has been developed by the Central Pollution Control Board in consultation with IIT-Kanpur and an expert group comprising medical, air-quality professionals and other stakeholders.

  • Governments in many countries use the index to put in place emergency measures when the index indicates a high-degree of risk to public health from spike in pollution levels. 

  • Some cities send advisories to schools to shut down, other shut down industrial activities temporarily while many others curtail the number of cars and vehicles on road. 

  • The Prime Minister also launched the Standard Terms of Reference for carrying out environmental impact assessment studies as part of the Green Clearance  process. 

  • At present the expert appraisal committee gives site and project specific terms of references for carrying out the impact assessment. Once the assessment is in and a public hearing held on its basis, the committee evaluates the project for the clearance. 

  • Standard Terms of Reference for 39 industries would bring down the time-span of granting approvals from six months to one year earlier, to 30 days now.

 


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