PM launches National Air Quality Index

06 Apr 2015


Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the `National Air Quality Index', which will monitor the quality of air in major urban centres across the country on a real-time basis.

At present, the quality of air can be monitored in 10 cities, including Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. This will be extended to 22 state capitals and 44 other cities with population exceeding a population of one million.

The index will inform the public about the level of pollution in the air on a daily, real-time basis. The AQI is a global standard used to understand air quality. Based on the various parameters available, the air quality standard will be presented on a 6-colour coded scale - dark green denoting the cleanest and maroon denoting the most polluted.

According to the World Health Organisation, 13 Indian cities figure among the 20 most polluted cities of the world.

The project's aim is also to enhance public awareness and involvement in efforts to improve air quality.

Minister of state for environment, forest and climate change Prakash Javadekar emphasised on India's transformation from individual project-based approach to a policy-based decision making process.

He also stressed the need for monitoring and compliance, rather than merely prescribing conditions.

Meanwhile, air quality of Delhi and Mumbai will be "very poor" in the next few days, particularly on Tuesday and Wednesday, due to a dust storm which originated in the Gulf region last week, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), a body under the ministry of earth science.

"This is mainly due to the remnants of a major dust storm which was experienced in the Gulf region early last week has now crossed the Arabian Sea," the agency said on Sunday.

"The storm has elevated the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 in Mumbai significantly today (April 5) as per the data obtained by new SAFAR station at Colaba area. Although the direction of storm is towards Mumbai, Nasik and part of North Maharashtra, its remnants are likely to elevate level of PM2.5 particles from moderate to poor /very poor category by Tuesday and Wednesday," according to the SAFAR forecast.

"An increase of 30-40 per cent is likely in the level of PM2.5 particles where as PM10 particles may go up by 20-30 per cent being heavier and settle down faster," said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR at ESSO-IITM Pune.

He said the PM2.5 was just 70 microgram/m3 (mgpmc) (moderate) on April 2 which is 144 mgpmc today (Poor) and will go up by 210 mgpmc (Very Poor) by Tuesday (April 7).

PM2.5 is considered to be very dangerous as it affects lungs and enters the blood stream. The normal level of PM2.5 should be 60.

The dust storm that originated in the Gulf region on April 1 crossed the Arabian Sea today.

This has disturbed the air quality in Delhi, which was categorised as "good" by SAFAR last week.

"Air quality in Delhi is again going to become poor to very poor on Tuesday/Wednesday and PM2.5 is likely to touch a value of 130-150 microgram/m3 as per the prediction made by the SAFAR model.

"The dust storm has disturbed the wind patterns. And some parcels rich in pollution are likely to drift towards northern parts of India including Delhi. But Mumbai will be the most affected," Beig added.

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