Interest in Air Pollution Only during Winter in North India

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), January 3, 2018 | Go to article overview

Interest in Air Pollution Only during Winter in North India


NEW DELHI, Jan. 3 -- Last week, AIADMK parliamentarian A Navaneetha krishnan demanded shifting of Parliament's winter session outside Delhi due to high levels of pollution in the national capital.

The demand captures the inadequacy of society's response to the problem of air pollution.

Everybody knows pollution worsens during winter but forgets about it once things improve due to climatic factors. Even Google search data suggests that online searches regarding pollution peak in winter months. (See Chart 1).

It is a known fact that peninsular India is much better in terms of air quality than the northern parts.

For11citieslyinginthenorthern region, including Gurgaon, Delhi and Lucknow,the air quality index (AQI) - that measures pollution levels - was either 'poor', 'very poor' or 'severe' on 47% days in 2017, HT analysis of daily PM2.5 data shows.

In 12 cities lying in the peninsular region - that includes Mumbai,Chennai,Pune,Bengaluru and Hyderabad - the air quality was beyond the 'poor' standard on just 4% of the days. On 96% of the days, the air was either 'good', 'moderate' or 'satisfactory'.

Not all people living in north India can think of migrating to cleaner regions during winter despite the fact that health hazards due to air pollution are too dangerous to ignore.

This underlines the need for putting in place a holistic strategy to deal with air pollution.

The first prerequisite of formulating any such strategy is the availability of detailed data, across time and regions, on pollution.

An HT analysis shows there are big gaps on all counts.

The online portal of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) provides air quality data from government-operated air quality monitoring stations across the country.

According to data on the CPCB website, there are 94 such monitoring stations across 53 cities. But not all of them function regularly.

In 2017, at least 54 stations functioned for more than nine months. But 26 stations had data for less than three months. …

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