by Elton Gomes
Amid uncontrollable air pollution levels ahead of winter, Union Earth Sciences Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday launched a system that will forewarn Delhi about any large-scale air pollution events.
The ‘Air Quality Early Warning System’ has been designed to predict extreme air pollution events. The system will also give alerts in terms of taking necessary steps as per Centre’s Graded Response Action Plan.
The Air Quality Early Warning System will reportedly predict the condition of the air up to three days in advance in several neighbourhoods of Delhi, including Ghaziabad, Rohtak, and Gurugram.
Through this new service, residents will be better prepared for bad-air days and enforcement agencies will be better equipped to tackle pollution and issue warnings.
The air pollution system has been developed jointly by the scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune; India Meteorological Department; and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).
The pollution forecast system contains real time observations of air quality over the Delhi-NCR region. It also consists of details about natural aerosols like dust and particulate matter using different satellite data sets, predictions of air pollutants from two air quality prediction systems, and warning messages.
What will the warning system do
The air quality early warning system will be able to predict the impact an emerging dust storm could have on Delhi’s air quality.
Explaining how the forecast system will work, Sachin C. Ghude, a scientist who is associated with the project, said that it will give Delhi the most accurate pollution information it has received so far. “Satellites will pick up real-time sources of pollution, such as stubble burning in northwest India or dust storms in west Asia,” Ghude told the Hindustan Times.
This system will reportedly collate data from 36 monitoring stations run by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), and Safar. It will then factor in real-time aerosol information from NASA satellites, and will give its prediction by considering meteorological factors.
Delhi better equipped to fight pollution
Amid rising pollution levels in the national capital, experts have said that Delhi looks better equipped to combat pollution on account of several steps being taken. The air pollution forecast system has been one of the most important measures undertaken.
“Polluting fuels such as coal, kerosene, furnace oil and pet coke have already been banned in Delhi. While on one hand teams comprising officials from CPCB have fanned out across Delhi and NCR towns, environment marshals deployed by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) are also flagging violations such as open garbage burning and open construction sites. A section of trucks are also being diverted through the Eastern Peripheral Expressway,” a senior official from the Delhi government’s environment department told the Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity.
In addition, civic bodies have increased their intensity of mechanical sweeping of roads and sprinkling of water to control road dust.
Air pollution in Delhi
In May, Delhi was declared to be the world’s most polluted city, according to air quality data compiled by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for megacities with a population of 14 million or more.
Recent reports on Wednesday suggested that Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to the ‘very poor’ category for the first time this season. Authorities have even said that several areas were inching towards severe levels of pollution.
On Wednesday, according to a PTI report, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded at 309, as per data from the government-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’ and that between 401 and 500 comes under the ‘severe’ category.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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