Delhi

93% of Delhiites do not understand what Air Quality Index means, shows survey

The surveyors said that the exercise showed that while people were aware of the problem of air pollution they were not in complete possession of the facts.

The surveyors said that the exercise showed that while people were aware of the problem of air pollution they were not in complete possession of the facts.   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

Study by United Residents’ Joint Action shows people uninformed; RTI query by association reveals most agencies unaware of their duties in fight against pollution

As many as 89% of Delhiites are unaware of pollution-monitoring devices in their neighbourhood and 93% do not understand the Air Quality Index (AQI) and cannot gauge from it whether the day’s air was ‘good,’ ‘severe’ or ‘very poor’, revealed a survey by United Residents’ Joint Action (URJA), an association of residents’ welfare associations.

The survey report was released on January 9. A total of 509 participants — 200 of whom were women — from 10 locations in Delhi were surveyed.

All the participants reportedly lived within 5 km of a monitoring station set up by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The ten locations were: Rohini, Anand Vihar, ITO, Siri Fort, Bawana, R.K. Puram, Patparganj, Lodhi Road, Dwarka and Ashok Vihar.

Fact check

The surveyors said that the exercise showed that while people were aware of the problem of air pollution they were not in complete possession of the facts.

“This shows public action needs a spurt, which can only happen when the public is fully aware of the facts,” read a press statement accompanying the findings of the survey.

93% of Delhiites do not understand what Air Quality Index means, shows survey

 

Delhi’s Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) tasks the CPCB, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) with keeping tabs on air quality.

These agencies are supposed to process the data further and inform the Environment (Prevention and Control) Protection Agency of the air quality status.

The EPCA in turn formulates the possible line of measures and conveys them to the respective authorities.

The authorities are then expected to mobilise a range of actions in keeping with GRAP and air pollution levels on respective days.

When URJA, via the Right To Information Act, quizzed various Delhi bodies — the police, metro rail authorities, municipal bodies — on steps taken to curb pollution, it found that action taken was of variable quality.

Missing agencies

A query to the EPCA revealed that 18 meetings were conducted on GRAP and departments such as the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Public Works Department were “missing” in the participants’ list.

The transport department responded that while challans were issued to polluting vehicles and higher taxes were imposed on diesel cars over petrol, there was no information available on the environment pollution charges collected by the department, URJA noted.

“The GRAP is a well thought-out policy. The need is to implement it on the ground, which would have helped tackle the air pollution levels rising every year in Delhi. However, RTI replies show that most agencies and departments are unaware of their duties and responsibilities. It is evident that they are either not aware of the steps under GRAP or are not ready to perform their duties,” said Atul Goyal, URJA chief.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 3:52:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/93-of-delhiites-do-not-understand-what-air-quality-index-means-shows-survey/article25954289.ece

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