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Posted at: Feb 14, 2018, 1:31 AM; last updated: Feb 14, 2018, 1:31 AM (IST)

District’s lone air-monitoring station on clean PAU campus

In the absence of enough monitoring, figures can be misleading, say experts

Gurvinder Singh

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 13

Although the industrial town has repeatedly figured in the list of most-polluted cities in the world, there is just one Continuous Ambient Air Measurement Station (CAAMS) for the district.

It is ironic that Delhi has as many as 17 such stations for monitoring air pollution, but Ludhiana has been given just one. A similar station became operational in Jalandhar a few days ago.

In the absence of enough monitoring, the figures given by the only station in the city could be misleading. These could rather show that the city is cleaner.

Surprisingly, the lone CAAMS set up in the district is located at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), which is one of the cleanest places in the district.

When asked if the air quality index (AQI) measured by the CAAMS at PAU can give accurate figure of pollution level in Ludhiana, Charanjit Singh, the scientific officer at the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) said: “The site was selected by a team from the Central Pollution Control Board. The station measures pollution at 18 feet, a height where it gets completely mixed.”

He also stressed that the CAAMS was installed at PAU on a site near the residential area of the city. He claimed that it measured pollution within the radius of 7 km.

“But consider this: Westwards of the station site is sprawling green and clean campus of 1,200 acre at PAU, beyond which is the expanse of GADVASU leading up to the canal road and beyond. It is an indication of how such a site can show figures that give a semblance of rather “how pollution-free” the city is,” he said.

“Factor this: At 4 pm today the AQI measured and showed online by the CAAMS in Amritsar was 140. It was 153 in Jalandhar and with 367 in Patiala it was ‘very poor’. The AQI in Ludhiana was 134, showing ‘moderate’ levels of pollution. It was less than pollution levels in Amristar, Jalandhar and Patiala,” he said.

However, environmentalists and residents said the station at PAU could not give a representative figure for pollution in Ludhiana.

“This pollution monitoring system is installed at the cleanest place in Ludhiana. In fact, there should be at least five such systems for the district,” said Dr Amandeep Singh Bains from RBS Roots.

“A proper ‘warning’ system should be in place in case the pollution level crosses the danger mark in those areas. In such case, proper precautions and advisories should be issued by the authorities so that appropriate steps can be taken by the administration as well as residents,” he said.

“In the absence of proper monitoring system, people will remain oblivious of high levels of pollution, while they suffer from health problems,” he said.

“The PPCB has its own monitoring systems in the district at three points, including the one at Vishwakarma Chowk and another at the Focal Point,” said Charanjit Singh.

Sarabjit Singh, a resident, however, said, “Though pollution levels of some cities across Punjab are posted by the PPCB online, it doesn’t show the consolidated AQI figures. Instead, it shows different pollutants, which must be measured as the AQI.”

“The Central government must set up more advanced stations in Ludhiana at different localities, as pollution levels in densely populated areas are not being measured. It is a must before corrective measures can be taken,” he said.


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