World Environment Day: NAQI raises concern about air pollution in India’s cities

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the National Air Quality Index (NAQI) initiative to raise awareness about air pollution in India, back in April this year. But there was no mention of how the Rs 500-crore program would be supported financially. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change tried to raise the necessary funding by writing to a number of central public sector undertakings (PSUs). The good news is that some of them have responded positively to the project.

Companies like Coal India Limited, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited, Power Grid Corporation of India Limited, National Mineral Development Corporation Limited, Power Finance Corporation Limited and Rural Electrification Corporation Limited have pledged their support for the air quality index. These PSUs from the energy and mining sector may be joined by those from the steel and gas sector too, according to the Ministry.

File Photo - Air Pollution

A unnamed senior Ministry member feels the response from PSUs has been very encouraging, says DNA. The funding is needed by the NAQI for about 70 air quality stations and will cover installation of new stations, operating and maintenance costs for a year or so. Each of them will require a budget of Rs 1.2 to Rs 1.5 crores. The Central Pollution Control Board’s existing monitoring stations will be replaced. India did not have a real-time NAQI program previously.

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The NAQI has been set up to provide constantly updated, color-coded data on the air quality in areas that have been identified as highly polluted. Greed stands for ‘safe’, orange is used to signify ‘moderate’ and red means we desperately need to clean up our act together. It has been launched for Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Haryana. More states will be welcoming the initiative during its next phase of roll-out.

Displays at key traffic junctions will also be installed to bring about public awareness. The Ministry may begin inviting tenders for the air quality index project later this month, or in July. Here’s the page from where you can check out the pollution levels in your city.