Focus on `clean cities’ as government forced to monitor capital’s air quality

12 Mar 2015


The Indian government has finally heeded the rising concerns in India and abroad, over air pollution in the national capital, after members of the Rajya Sabha expressed their concern over the issue.

The rising concerns over the growing pollution levels seem to have blunted the Narendra Modi government's avowed plans to create 100 smart cities across the country; the government has now decided to ensure that authenticated information is available to people by harmonising air quality monitoring system.

As the clamour for smart city tag rises, the government will now have to rethink what constitutes a smart city and what India needs most - smart cities or clean cities. It's a tussle between `Swachh Bharat' and `Smart Bharat''.

The environment ministry along with ministry of earth sciences on Wednesday announced the setting up of a unified system of air quality monitoring in Delhi so that the air quality information reaches the public at large.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) will follow a standard operating procedure (SOP) for data validation, analysis and dissemination.

The basic data quality checks will be performed at the monitoring station levels using in-built software and then transmitted to CPCB every hour.

The validation will be done through an automated system at CPCB. Further analysis of the data will be done on a daily basis by CPCB that would include all the details about the air pollution levels with possible explanations.

Air pollution in New Delhi, among the worst in the world, is threatening to reduce lifespans of its citizens by three years.

In the  'Mercer 2015 Quality of Living Rankings', a global survey, which examines the quality of living in over 230 cities around the world, not one Indian city features among the top 135. The Mercer report notes that the rise in population has multiplied the existing problems of Mumbai (152) and Delhi (154), including access to clean water, air pollution and traffic congestion.

Austrian capital Vienna, that prides itself with over half its area under green cover, tops the list of most livable cities in the world. At 25, Singapore is the best in Asia.

The magnitude of India's problem is so great that over a billion people expect uninterrupted clean water and electricity supply, a drainage system that works and a mobile and broadband network system that lets them communicate.

Meanwhile, reports said the Delhi Development Authority is planning to make a part of the national capital a smart sub-city, in three years, which conjures up images of more concrete monstrosities and more pollution.

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