Now Delhiites can get to know the air they breathe

March 13th, 2011 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 13 (IANS) Now people in Delhi can get to know the quality of air they breathe. Hourly air quality and weather updates will be provided on LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) boards across the city soon.

The metro weather service bulletins will be put up in the city’s 11 districts.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is in the process of selecting the places to set up the air quality stations.

These air quality stations were used by the IMD for air quality management during the Commonwealth Games (CWG) last year.

“The weather stations were put near stadiums and the Games village during CWG. We have decided to start a metro weather service where we will provide region-wise weather and pollution updates,” Shailesh Nayak, secretary, ministry of earth sciences, told IANS.

The weather updates were part of the System of Air Pollution Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) developed by scientists from the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) at a cost of Rs.100 million (over $2 million).

Some of the weather stations have already been dismantled and shifted to other locations.

“The metro weather service will start within a month from now. As of now we provide region-wise temperature but soon people in different parts of the capital will know about the level of pollution — oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, black carbon and benzene — in the air,” he said.

Nayak said IMD needs to be really careful while selecting places for the weather stations as it should not have the impact and shadow of buildings.

The air quality stations will provide information on level of pollution within a four-kilometre radius on an hourly basis and forecast about air quality 24 hours in advance through wireless colour digital display panels, thus alerting people and helping them avoid immediate exposure to unhealthy air.

“At a specific time if the level of particulate matter or black carbon in the air is high, the display board will show red and if it’s normal it will show green. By seeing the colour codes people will easily come to know about the air quality,” Gufran Beig, SAFAR scientist, told IANS.

SAFAR is a computer model where data like wind speed and humidity will be keyed in and the information will forecast the pollution level 24 hours in advance. The real-time data will help predict air quality 95 percent accurately.

The IITM had also prepared an emission inventory from 70 slum clusters, 881 hotels and restaurants, 5,000 industries and other sources across the capital.

The monitoring system comprises instruments like ozone and carbon monoxide analysers, particulate matter analysers and real-time analysers for recording other pollutants.

The ever-growing number of cars, two-wheelers and three-wheelers occupy a staggering 75 percent of road space in Delhi, although only 20 percent of the commuting public use them.

Delhi has over five million vehicles and another four million come to the metropolis from towns in adjoining states in the National Capital Region (NCR).

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at richa.s@ians.in)

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