Saturday, June 04, 2016

Ahmedabad "removed" from list of top cities for Air Quality Index monitoring, no data available since Nov 2015

Screenshot of website showing Ahmedabad AQI has "no data"
By Our Representative
The Government of India does not seem to think that Ahmedabad is a major city, requiring monitoring of air quality index (AQI). A year ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared 10 AQI monitoring stations open across the country, and Ahmedabad was one of them.
However, an Ahmedabad-based NGO has revealed that the station, set up in Ahmedabad, was closed down in November 2016, and isn’t operational ever since.A click on the site says, "Maninagar, Ahmedabad AQI: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI).no data" as of June 5 at 1.25 pm (see screenshot above).
Worse, another site (Central Pollution Control Board), does not have Gujarat as one of the states whose National Air Quality Index would need to be monitored (see screenshot below).
The cities where the AQI stations were set up are New Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The “broad plan” was to expand the AQI stations to 66 cities with a population of one million.
Pointing out that Ahmedabad is “missing” from the AQI stations list, too, on the website, Mahesh Pandya of Paryavaran Mitra, in a power point presentation, prepared for the World Environment Day (June 5), said, “It was last recorded on November 2015. From November 2015 till present (June 2016), there has been no monitoring data available on AQI system of Ahmedabad.” 
Gujarat missing in list of states whose air quality needs to be monitored
Pandya suspects, this was done because the city was “possibly found to have very high air pollution levels”, and this undermine Modi’s effort to frantically sell Ahmedabad as a model city across the country. The station was to be used for informing people “about daily air quality and to provide advisories on health consequences.”
Suggesting that this is not the only example of indifference of the Gujarat government towards the impact of climate change, which has been “severe in the recent past”, Pandya said, “Gujarat has encountered warmer winters that have reduced moisture for winter crops, including maize, wheat, tur dal, etc., resulting in their sharply reduced yields. Farmers often have to leave their lands fallow."
Pointing out that Gujarat was the first, and still remains the only, state to form a separate climate change department, initiated in 2009, Pandya said, it became “the last state of India to come up with its own climate change action plan, which was to be based on the one adopted by the Union government in May 2015 for up to the year 2020.”
Worse, despite the big talk of transparency, Pandya said, the climate change department remained without a website of its own till about a month ago. The website went online following a right to information (RTI) plea filed by Paryavaran Mitra, following chief information commissioner Balwant Singh’s intervention in September 2015, asking officials to ensure that “all the information about climate change in Gujarat is available to the public.”
Things are no better for central effluent treatment plants (CETPs), which are supposed to treat industrial waste before disposing it off. “There are 37 CETPs in the state, of which 33 CETPs are operational and four were either proposed or at commissioning/ construction stage. Yet, none of the CETPs discharged their effluents as per the prescribed norms by the Gujarat Pollution Control Board, and wide variations were noticed in their performance,” said Pandya.
“A total of Rs 212.31 crore financial aid has been given by the state government for upgradation and establishment of CETPs. Although the capacity and financial support has increased since 2012, still the investment of substantial government finance in the CETP schemes does not justify in terms of pollution reduction and environment improvement”, he said.

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