After considerable delay, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) has installed two new air quality monitors in the city – one on the Gurugram-Faridabad Road and the other in Sector 51. Data from the latter, located at Gurugram University, became public earlier this month. Since March 6, the monitor has been relaying information to a central server maintained by the Central Pollution Control Board(CPCB). The third monitor, HSPCB officials said, will become operational within a week at The Energy Research Institute (TERI) on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road.
The neighbouring Faridabad has also received three new air quality monitors in Sector 11, Sector 30 and at VK Chowk in the New Industrial Township area. Data from all three are being transmitted to the CPCB’s central server. Earlier, Faridabad had just one air quality monitor in Sector 16A. Both Faridabad and Gurugram now have four air quality monitors each, data from which will be used when calculating their daily air quality index (AQI) values. In Gurugram, data from a fourth monitor at the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE) in Gwal Pahari, is also being used for the same purpose.
JB Sharma, senior scientist and head of the HSPCB’s air quality cell in Panchkula, said, “These monitors were proposed as early as 2018, but tenders were floated sometime last year. The monitors were installed in January and began capturing in data in early February. After initial quality control tests by the CPCB, they are now fully operational. We have also installed a monitor in the new district of Charki Dadri.”
Of the three air quality monitors currently relaying data from Gurugram, the one at NISE, Gwal Pahari, reflected “insufficient data for computing AQI” on Monday. Of the remaining two, the air quality monitor in Sector 51 reflected ‘poor’ air quality with an AQI of 245 at 7:30pm. The average concentration of PM2.5 at the time was 245ug/m3, while PM10 stood at 155ug/m3.
In comparison, the air quality monitor at Vikas Sadan reflected far lower pollution levels, with an AQI value of 90 (satisfactory), with PM2.5 at a daily average of 90ug/m3. This monitor does not reflect PM10 data. Based on data captured by the two monitors on Monday (Sector 51 and Vikas Sadan), the city’s average AQI for the day stood in ‘moderate’ on Monday, with 165 on the CPCB’s AQI bulletin.
Since March 6, the monitor in Sector 51 has routinely recorded worse air quality than Vikas Sadan and NISE both. “It’s very difficult at this point to explain this discrepancy. The authorities will have to investigate whether the instruments are being calibrated properly. Other factors may also be at play, such as the specific location of the new monitor and emission sources nearby,” said Sumit Sharma, an air quality scientist at TERI in Delhi.