Friday, July 22, 2005

Measures to control pollution

Measures to control pollution
Two online ambient air quality monitoring stations are coming up in the city shortly and many Government Departments are involved in curbing pollution
The Times of India

With the increasing number of vehicles and industries in and around the city, it's not surprising that the pollution levels are increasing each day. The State Government has been proactive in curbing this and two online ambient air quality monitoring stations are coming up in the city shortly. Data about air quality will be transmitted every second and a display board will also display this information. However, the location of these stations is yet to be finalised. Though an action plan to curb pollution is already in force, more monitoring systems will help the State Government control this problem in the days ahead.

Monitoring air quality
Currently, there are more than 22 lakh vehicles, and about 600 to 700 new vehicles are being added on each day. In addition, about five lakh vehicles pass through the city each year. Plus, there are numerous industrial areas that are also expanding around the city. In this scenario, the issue of air pollution becomes a major focus.

There are five locations in Bangalore where air quality is being monitored two days a week for 24 hours by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB). The levels of four parameters are monitored - suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM), sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen. These are monitored as per National Ambient Air Quality Standards in three categories of areas i.e. industrial, residential, rural and other areas, and sensitive areas (schools, hospitals etc).

In Bangalore, the five locations where ambient air quality is currently being monitored are Victoria Hospital (sensitive area), Peenya (industrial), Graphite India (industrial), Yelahanka (industrial) and Amco Batteries (residential, rural and other areas). And the data being collected shows that certain parameters are above acceptable levels. For example, according to data collected over the past eleven months near Victoria Hospital, all other parameters except sulphur dioxide exceed acceptable levels, while in Amco Batteries the particulate matters are exceeding acceptable levels.

The question arises as to why residential areas are not being monitored. According to officials, there are several issues with regard to monitoring air quality in residential areas. Firstly, 24-hour power supply is required for the equipment to function and secondly, the security of equipment has to be kept in mind. Further, standards are annual average values monitored for 104 consecutive readings and thus these readings cannot be disrupted. If they are, the data cannot be taken into consideration. As a result, no air quality monitoring is currently being done in any residential area.

Plans for the city
Based on the air quality monitoring done at Ananda Rao Circle, the Supreme Court had directed the State in 2003 to draw up an action plan for combating air pollution in Bangalore. This action plan came into full force in December 2003 and the various departments of the State are handling different aspects of this plan. A task force is also in place to put the plan into action and it's under the chairmanship of the Additional Chief Secretary to the Government.

There are 14 points enumerated in the plan and there are numerous implementing agencies. For instance, only three-wheelers with a bi-fuel mode (like LPG and petrol) were to be registered from December 1, 2003, and electronic Emission Testing Centres were to be set up in each petrol bunk from the same date. This is to be handled by the Transport Department. Similarly, the Food and Civil Supplies Division is to check the adulteration of fuel while the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation is to increase the fleet size. A better public transport system is thought to reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads thereby reducing emission.

The KSPCB is installing the online ambient air quality monitoring stations and is promoting the use of cleaner fuels in industries. Officials in the KSPCB state that all industries have been informed that they are to use diesel that has 0.05 percent sulphur. But with the availability of diesel in the market that has only 0.035 percent sulphur, it has made the task easier. Industries that don't use diesel have been told to phase out the use of other fuels. LPG, in fact, is stated to be a cleaner fuel than petrol or diesel, as it cannot be adulterated.

Meteorological parameters also influence air quality in the city and officials say it's not easy to generalise the conclusions of a study in one area to all areas. But controlling pollution also requires the knowledge of the proportion of contribution of various sources. The Energy Research Institute is currently doing an emission source apportionment study in the city. Usually, it is factors like vehicles, industries and use of generators that contribute to pollution. Generally, automobiles cause more than 60 percent of pollution in any urban area but this study will give the exact figures once complete.

Controlling air pollution
Two online ambient air quality monitoring stations coming up shortly in the city Currently, five locations in the city for monitoring air quality – Victoria Hospital, Peenya, Graphite India, Yelahanka, and Amco Batteries. However, no residential area is being monitored Four parameters monitored – suspended particulate matter, respirable suspended particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen These parameters differ for each area i.e. industrial, residential and sensitive An action plan to improve air quality is in force from December 2003 and is implemented by numerous government departments The Energy Research Institute is currently doing an emission source apportionment study


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