UN praise for India`s pollution monitoring system

UN body has praised a pollution monitoring system developed by Indian scientists during the CWG.

New Delhi: A United Nations body has praised a pollution monitoring system developed by Indian scientists to ensure clean air during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year. India is now planning to replicate the model in six other cities.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a specialised agency of the UN, said the System of Air Pollution Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) developed by the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) will serve as an example across the globe.

"SAFAR is an excellent example of a well carried out project and the experience of this project serves as an example within India, South Asia and globally," L. Jalkanen, head of the WMO`s Atmospheric Environment Research Division, wrote in a letter to SAFAR project director Gurfan Beig March 29.

"The scientific advisory group (SAG) met in Canada in November 2010. Based on the feedback from the chairman, who has personally visited the system in Delhi, the SAG expressed its appreciation for the efforts of the Indian scientists," Jalkanen said in the letter, a copy of which is with IANS.

SAFAR had provided information on air quality on an hourly basis and forecast pollution levels 24 hours in advance through wireless colour digital display panels `air quality station` located at 11 key points in the city during the Oct 3-14 mega sporting event last year.

WMO, through its technical report, also appreciated the concept of IITM to provide the Air Quality Index (AQI) of individual pollutants for the country instead of one AQI value, so that mitigation towards dominant sources becomes practical.

"The SAG also expressed its wishes that the SAFAR activity remain sustainable and that it would regularly provide the operational forecasting of Delhi and other regions in India, along with good science, and to continue to provide data visibility," he added.

The system was set up at a cost of Rs.100 million (over $2 million).

Scientists are happy with the praise and are looking forward to replicating the model in six other cities.

"It is a big thing for us to get UN recognition for our project. We have recently got a letter from the ministry of earth sciences that the model will be replicated in six other cities," Beig said.

SAFAR is a computer model where data like wind, speed and humidity will be keyed in and the information will forecast the pollution level 24 hours in advance. The real-time data will help predict air quality 95 percent accurately.

The ministry of earth sciences has decided to dismantle the air quality stations from stadiums and Games village and is shifting them to 11 districts in the capital to provide a dedicated metro weather service.

"We have decided to start a metro weather service," said Shailesh Nayak, secretary, ministry of earth sciences.

"As of now we provide region-wise temperature but soon people in different parts of the capital will know about the level of pollution -- oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, black carbon and benzene -- in the air," he added.