NEW DELHI: The national capital could finally breathe easy; its air is not as bad as it has been projected by some international studies. The air pollution levels in 80 per cent of the city fluctuate between satisfactory to moderate, while it is bad in 20 per cent, according to the Air Quality Index (AQI) maintained by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Air pollution is worst in Anand Vihar and ITO.
The MoEF, headed by Prakash Javadekar, is providing a comprehensive real-time AQI data at 10 places in the national capital based on eight parameters. The new system was launched in April after a series of reports -- especially international -- highlighted that the city was the most polluted one in the entire world. Some reports showed 13 Indian cities among the top 20 most polluted cities of the world. The AQI is collected at ITO, Mandir Marg, Anand Vihar, Shadipur, Civil Lines, IGI Airport, R K Puram, Punjabi Bagh, Dwarka and near Dilshad Garden. ITO and Anand Vihar, which witness heavy traffic throughout the day, recorded severe air pollution, while pollution levels in other parts of the city range between satisfactory and moderate.
Javadekar said traditionally air quality status was reported through voluminous data and it was important that such information was put up in the public domain in simple linguistic terms that was easily understood by a layman. “The MoEF has decided to provide the AQI data free of cost for comprehensive health of air. We are also working with neighbouring states to bring down the pollution in Delhi. A road map has been prepared and pollution levels will come down in the near future,” he said.
The index has categories with a colour scheme beginning with green and ending in dark red (as One Number - One Colour - One Description) for the common man to judge the air quality within his vicinity. There are six AQI categories-- good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor and severe. Based on the measured ambient concentrations, corresponding standards and likely health impact for each of these pollutants are measured. An expert group comprising medical professionals, air quality experts, academia, advocacy groups and State Pollution Control Boards was constituted and a technical study was awarded to IIT-Kanpur.
Following this, they recommended an AQI scheme. The proposed AQI was based on eight air pollutants -- particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide ( SO2), carbon monoxide (CO), O3 (ozone), ammonia (NH3) and lead (Pb).