Call for installing more continuous air monitoring stations

Air pollution set off by bursting of crackers. A scene from Basin Bridge in Chennai | File   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

As the city continues to reel under poor air quality, with its 24-hour average Air Quality Index at 218, Urban Emissions founder Sarath Guttikunda, an expert on air pollution, has called for installing more continuous monitoring stations.

“Chennai’s airshed needs at least 38 stations to statistically, spatially and temporally represent its air quality. These will represent the mix of sources and range of pollution in the city,” he said.

Chennai currently has four continuous and five manual stations. The government had announced the setting up of 23 new stations across the State, including a few in Chennai. However, though orders were placed by the TNPCB at a total cost of ₹39 crore in October 2017, they are yet to see the light of the day, an environmental activist said. “The Board keeps saying that the equipment is in various stages of commissioning. When you compare, Delhi has 37 stations, Bengaluru 10, Kolkata 7, Mumbai 10, Navi Mumbai 3 and Hyderabad 6,” he said.

Poor air quality

Though parts of the city benefited from showers on Saturday, and light winds brought some respite, pollution levels remained high. The Velachery continuous air quality monitoring station recorded a maximum PM2.5 of 335 microgram/cubic metre, the one at Alandur a maximum of 310 microgram/cubic metre and Manali, a maximum of 303 microgram/cubic metre.

Also read: Doctors urge Centre to include Chennai in its clean air programme

Mr. Guttikunda said that the city needed to aggressively promote public and non-motorized transport as part of the city’s urban development plan, along with the improvement of the road infrastructure to reduce on-road dust re-suspension. A freight management program to reduce the footprint of emissions from heavy and light vehicles, and associated port activities would also help. Coal-fired power plants need to practice and enforce stricter environmental standards for all criteria pollutants to reduce their share of influence on urban air quality, he added.

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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 9:34:43 PM |

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