The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) proposes to establish five more ambient air quality monitoring stations in and around Chennai. Three of them are to be set up in suburban areas that would be merged with the Chennai Corporation as part of the city expansion project.
These facilities ascertain the levels of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and Sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the area, thereby creating a database for the authorities to initiate measures to contain air pollution. There are five such stations of TNPCB in the city — Vallalar Nagar, Anna Nagar, Kilpauk, T. Nagar and Adyar. Under the Chennai Ambient Air Quality Monitoring programme, the monitoring is being done on a manual basis on 104 days in a year in each station.
Two of the proposed stations would come up at Besant Nagar and Perambur, while the locations of the remaining three are yet to be finalised. The additional stations have been necessitated considering the increase in the population of Chennai, a TNPCB official said.
The TNPCB has already written to the Central Pollution Control Board seeking funds to set up stations in Besant Nagar and Perambur. “Equipment for each station costs around Rs.1.50 lakh. Operation and maintenance cost for each station works out to Rs. 22,500 per station per month,” the official said.
“We have also asked them to link the existing stations with the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme, under which the CPCB would provide 50 per cent of the funds for operation and maintenance,” the source said.
Though the board has sought funds, finding locations to install the equipment poses a problem as officials say that in many localities residents do not want to rent out space. “Though we pay rent as well as the electricity charges many people are hesitant as our staff will be present on their premises round the clock during the monitoring period.”