Govt. starts talks with IIT on real-time sources of pollution

Published - January 09, 2021 12:21 am IST - New Delhi

Decision taken to terminate same study being done by University of Washington; move to delay project

The Delhi government has been stating that stubble burning is the major cause of air pollution during winters.

The Delhi government has started talks with IIT-Kanpur to do a study to find what exactly the sources of pollutants in the city’s air on a real-time basis are.

The move follows a decision by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia last week to “terminate” the same study currently being done by University of Washington in St. Louis for the Delhi government, multiple officials told The Hindu .

This will further delay the project, which has already missed its deadline six months ago.


“The Deputy CM has terminated the study and directed to find a new agency to conduct the same,” a Delhi government official said. IIT-Kanpur has expressed interest in the study and is in the process of submitting a proposal.

“The government is yet to make its decision of terminating the study public and also convey it to the Washington University. The legal department will take a call on how to go forward,” a second official said.

Red flags


In December, The Hindu had first reported that a three-member committee appointed by the Delhi government had raised red flags about the “real-time source appropriation study of air pollution in Delhi”, which is being done by the University of Washington in St. Louis.

The study which was approved by the Delhi government in 2018, was a flagship project of the government to find a solution to the air pollution, by finding the sources causing air pollution in the city on a real time basis.

In December, Dr. Pratim Biswas, a professor at the university, who is part of the study, had said through an email, “We have responded to all questions [raised by the government]. Scientific aspects are solid. It is up to policy-makers to implement.”

The study, with a total cost of ₹1.2 crore, was allotted to the university without a tender and it was done on “nomination basis”. The study was supposed to be completed by June, 2020.

Payments made

The government has paid more than ₹50 lakh for the study till now, which is the first two instalments of the total cost of the study, according to officials. Even if the study is now done by another agency, they can use a lot of data generated from the current study.

On July 3, 2018, the Delhi Cabinet, headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, had approved a proposal for the study. The study was important as the reason causing pollution in the city has been a matter of constant debate between the city and the Centre.

The Delhi government has been stating that stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is the major cause of air pollution in Delhi during winters. On the other hand, the Centre has multiple times pointed out that local pollutants in the city are also a main reason.

Shortly after the AAP government came to power, in February, 2020, Gopal Rai, who was given the Environment Minister’s portfolio, visited a location near India Gate from where the study was being carried out.

Information gathering

“Obtaining real-time data is necessary to monitor the real sources of pollution at a particular point in time. Until we can gather information about the sources of pollution, we will not be able to devise any mechanism for reducing these sources. There are no generalised sources of this pollution, and so we cannot work on decreasing or eradicating it in a generalised manner. We need to obtain real-time data to devise an action plan on how to reduce pollution levels,” Mr. Rai said on February 20, in a first statement from his office, after he became the Environment Minister.

This is a Premium article available exclusively to our subscribers. To read 250+ such premium articles every month
You have exhausted your free article limit.
Please support quality journalism.
You have exhausted your free article limit.
Please support quality journalism.
The Hindu operates by its editorial values to provide you quality journalism.
This is your last free article.