The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board has set up a Care Air Centre to assess real time emissions online from factories in Manali Industrial Area and alert the management of the polluting industries to take up mitigation measures quickly.

Presiding over the function to launch the centre at TNPCB headquarters, Minister for Environment T.P.M Mohideen Khan said that the centre would monitor online, in real time, and around the clock the ambient air quality of Manali, a critically polluted area, and source of emissions from factories.

The real time monitoring facility, a first of its kind in the country, will be extended to other critically polluted areas like Cuddalore, Mettur, Ranipet and Tuticorin within a year.

When the pollution level exceeds the national standards, the automated system will trigger off an alarm in the factory site. Moreover, SMS alerts will be sent to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company, the nodal officer, the district environmental engineer and the TNPCB member secretary.

At present, the analysers gather data on Sulphur dioxide, Nitrogen dioxide and particulate matters but will soon be expanded to monitor lead, benzene, arsenic and nickel, Mr. Mohideen Khan said.

Launching the facility, K. Kasturirangan, Member, Planning Commission, said that a review of the state pollution control boards has revealed that the agencies were short of manpower, infrastructure and financial resources.

As there was a big gap between the project proposed and tasks completed year after year, this could lead to a runaway effect, he cautioned.

There was a need to bring in science and technology, automation and modern concepts of data processing to the system, he said underlining the need for a strong political will to prevent pollution.

Planning Commission Advisor Indrani Chandrasekar said there was a plan to devolve more funds to states performing better in environment protection based on a national ranking by assessing criteria like air pollution, water quality, forest management, waste management and institutional mechanism put in place for achieving standards.

Tamil Nadu was ranked seventh in the mid-term appraisal, she said.

TNPCB Chairman R. Balakrishnan welcomed the gathering, Member Secretary R. Ramachandran proposed the vote of thanks. A report on status of air quality in the State during 2006-08 was released on the occasion.