Sarath Guttikunda, director of Urban Emissions (India), an independent research group on air pollution that disseminates air quality forecasts for 640 districts in India, writes about the importance of being “more informed in advance when pollution is bad and [the need to] promote programs that avoid, improve, shift – just the way fuel is burnt in the city.”
Dr. Guttikunda explains that Delhi’s current Graded Responsibility Action Plan (GRAP) “has been put in place with good intensions.” However, “it is still a defensive one with many inexplicable ends.” He notes that Delhi can learn from the emergency plans put in place to tackle high air pollution days by London, Paris, and Beijing. Additionally, he writes, “We know by now that air pollution is not a standalone problem in a city but is essentially a symptom of inadequate planning. Policymakers can implement one-off solutions against air pollution but the best short-term results are possible only when they are fully implemented with no exemptions.”
“…when pollution is bad, we have to be on a higher alert and have to do more than normal. We have to be more informed about the problem in advance and promote programs that avoid, improve, shift, just the way fuel is burnt in the city. For the GRAP program to succeed, two additional activities must be implemented on the ground:
- An immediate increase in the number of continuous air monitoring stations (CAMS) in NCR. The number of stations operational under CPCB, Delhi (13), Faridabad (1), Gurgaon (1), Rohtak (1) and Noida (1 – proposed), are not enough to support the GRAP program. Given the ranges of pollution we have observed in the last decade and the mix of pollution sources in the region, our best guess is that NCR requires as many as 100 CAMS, reporting data on all the criteria-pollutants in real time. If the expansion of CAMS on a short notice is an issue, then the emerging low- and medium-cost sensors for key pollutants like PM2.5 and NO2 must be considered in order to be better informed of ground realities
- A proactive pollution alert system must be in place that will allow EPCA to notify agencies responsible for implementing GRAP at least 48 hours in advance. This goes hand in glove with the previous point – more informed we are about the problem, the more able we will be in avoiding it.” The Wire.in. Read the full column on delhiair.org.