India  has been suffering with Air Pollution for a long time and was  quite aware in 90’s when its Capital Delhi and Chinese capital Beijing were the countries with worst AQI. Both the countries pledged to control it and adopted measures. Beijing effectively, brought it down, while in India it went up. India has a good set up, dealing in Environment with huge back up to ensure control, has research and Government administrative set up to do research / studies to work out plan of action. Many actions were initiated, though ‘Implementation’ may be termed poor. I suggest few studies to have complete information on Sources, Parameters, their Spread and Quantum in an area. Based on this background, plan & implement control measures. Enemical practices to  Environment should be controlled  and stopped ruthlessly, any where including in  Industries.

Life  giver has become life taker. Now a days, the  main talk and concern is Air Quality. The Air Pollution is caused by  Particulate Matter, SOx, NOx, Carbon monoxide, Hydrogen fluoride, Volatile organic compounds,                    Chlorofluorocarbons, Ammonia, Aldehydes and organic acids, Smog and Ground-level ozone  & lead etc.

Lets have  a look at the  background & trend of Air Quality in our country and also some other countries.

Delhi and Beijing, the most populated capital cities, competed with each other, for the infamous tag of being the world’s most polluted cities. Both countries claimed to have adopted control measures to reduce Particulate Matter. 

The result of the efforts is as given below:

  • Delhi sees steady rise in PM emissions even as Beijing’s effort bear fruit. In 2009, PM 2.5 levels in Beijing were far higher that Delhi’s. By 2017, however, emissions in India’s capital are nearly the double of its Chinese counterpart. 
  • As on November 13th, 2019 : AQI in India, China and US + Some other Countries

Lucknow (Lalbagh): 329; Delhi (Narela) :523; Beijing :28; France:18; Denmark: 13

U K :10; Brazil:8; U S:5 

This very clearly indicates that if proper information, details about the pollution are collected, studied and accordingly control measures taken, the air pollution can be controlled to a very  very minimal level like that in France, US, UK against the one which we are  facing at Delhi (AQI: 414), Noida (AQI: 519) and Lucknow (AQI: 361),  respectively. 

Can one imagine the health emergency caused in our country, due to Air Quality, and compare air breathed by us &  the citizens in some other countries!

It is generally known that the dust pollution is caused by Transportation,  Construction Activity (Buildings as well as  Roads), Poor Waste Management in the City – dumping and burning, Burning of stubbles by the farmers, Dust from large area of land with little or no vegetation, Deforestation etc 

Looking into more depth, the pollution caused  by Vehicular Traffic is due to No. of  vehicles plying and the Quality of Road, which creates dust due to the friction caused by the tyre and the surface of road. If  the surface of road is made, as done in foreign countries, the dust pollution will be hardly noticeable. Another  factor  is the Emission from the exhaust of the vehicle, which causes besides gaseous pollution also the Particulate Matter. Here, two aspects are relevant, one the Vehicle Engine Rating and the other, Emission Norms (Fuel Quality). Both of these need improvement in our Country for effective control of pollution. One can have an idea by seeing the Engine Rating and Emission  Standards of India and E U etc. Alongwit, ‘Traffic Flow Management’; Study and correction measures are essential!

Further, unimaginable, undesirable and unscientific practices are still in vogue, even in Lucknow. Waste  is being dumped adjacent to Public Toilet at Purania Chauraha, in the vicinity of Kendriya Bhawan, U P Panchayat Deptt and in front of Arif Shopping Complex.

Everybody in the country  is concerned including highest authority of country i.e MOEFCC (Govt of India), who launched “National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)”, to be implemented in all states in the Country. 

  • The NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. 
  • The center has fixed a target of reducing air pollution by 20-30% in 102 cities across the country by 2024, taking 2017 as base year. 
  • The Centre has earmarked Rs 300 crore for implementation of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) for the FY 2018-19 & FY 2019-20.
  • The approach for NCAP includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies. 
  • Formation of  4  State Level Committee including one under the Chairmanship of   Chief Secretary in the States + other Committees

Being a burning  public  issues,  hurting  everyone without  exception, the deliberation and action plan of the committees should be known to the public.  Further there  should be participation of  experts even  from Non Govt. Institution with  ground to earth experience. It is obvious, that experience and understanding of the issue in  different set of  conditions and thinking, may differ. Hence interaction & blend of experts opinion will be  very desirable to be realistic to face the ground issues .  

The  notification of NCAP  was issued on April 17, 2018, providing various committees at various levels -  but one doesn’t remember to have heard or seen any information / news any where about the deliberations, the  findings, actions taken, leave apart  any encouragement  to involve those engaged in environmental pollution control jobs in Private Sector to share and interact their findings & views in the matter.

NCAP & other plans like ‘EPCA’ and GRAP have failed. Main reasons being ‘Implementation  & its mode’.

Further, I think, Action Plan should be supplemented with Basic Data /Information to plan corrective action after knowing the  Quantum, Location and Details of the problem. For this, 3 aspects at an areas are essential. [I have been conveying this for quite some times – in the seminar on ‘ Air Pollution’ on World Environment Day, this year]

  1. Carrying Capacity 
  2. Emission Inventory
  3. Dispersion Modeling

As far as Carrying Capacity is concerned, the Air Quality Index is clearly indicating that as regards ‘Air’, it has far exceeded the carrying capacity limit & needs no study but action to bring it down.

Emission inventory:

It involves, an accounting of the amount of pollutants discharged in the atmosphere. It contains the total Emission for one or more pollution parameters originating from all source categories [like no. of Vehicular movement, Vehicular emission, Construction activities burning of stubbles, burning of waste etc.], in a geographical area, within a specified time span. The study indicates the following:

  • The types of activities that cause emissions & their contribution
  • The chemical or physical identity of the pollutants and the quantity. 
  • The area covered
  • The time period 

 The third information – ‘Dispersion Modeling’ will connect the sources, quantum of pollutants, the areas impacted and extent.

Once the pollutants are released into air, their fate is solely determined by the atmospheric conditions mentioned below:

  • Temperature  - Dispersion
  • Wind Caries away
  • Turbulence Mixes
  • Rain Washes 
  • Humidity - Agglomerate

The quality of air is expressed as Air Quality Index (AQI) i.e the level of pollutants  in air and its impact. It ranges from 0 (Least Concern) to 500 (greatest concern) as per existing decided 5 categories.

HOWEVER THE PRESENT SCENARIO HAS EVEN EXCEEDED THE WORST AQI ENVISAGED (401-500), CATEGORY.

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the individual contributing member, and are not necessarily representative of  the views of IEMA or any professional institutions with which IEMA is associated


About the Author

Mr R N Bhargava is Founder and Chairman of Ecomen Laboratories Pvt Ltd; has served more that 30 years in the field of Environment. He is a Multi faceted Professional having 3 disciplines- Engineering (B.E. Mining); Management (PGDBM-XLRI); & Environment (MIEMA from IEMA, U.K.). He is Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Institution of Engineers India and MGMI, MEAI with 60 years experience and still rendering services to industry and society. He is Secretary General , Club of Lucknow. He was MD, Almora Magnesite Ltd ; M D ; Himalaya Magnesite Ltd & Executive Officer in Tata Steel. Prepared more than 100 EIA/EMP reports. Received many awards for contribution in the field of Environment from many reknowned institutions like IEI ; MGMI ; MEAI ; LMA etc etc in the Country. He authored a Book -‘Ecology & Environment’, published by TERI and co-authored a book, ‘Sustainable Development & Environmental Issues’.