Pollution Project: Problems Outscore Solutions


A committee appointed by the Delhi government has raised red flags over a study commissioned to find sources of air pollution on a real-time basis. The study — being done for the government by the University of Washington in St. Louis — is “likely to be canceled”, multiple officials told The Hindu.  The “real­time source appropriation study of air pollution in Delhi” was approved by the Delhi government in 2018.  It was a flagship project of the government to find a solution to air pollution by pinpointing pollution sources on a real-time basis. 


A three-member committee was formed to look into a report of the study submitted to the government by the university, and the panel raised multiple shortcomings. Later, the university accepted most of the issues raised by the committee and the study is likely to be canceled,” a Delhi government official said.  Environment Minister Gopal Rai is expected to take a final call on how to go forward with the study later this week. The causes of pollution in the city has been a matter of constant debate between the city and the Central government.  The Delhi government has been stating that stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is the major cause of air pollution in the city during winters, while the Centre has many times pointed out that local pollutants in the city are also the main reason. 


The total cost of ₹1.2 crores The study, with a total cost of 1.2 crores, was allotted to the university on a “nomination basis” without an open tender and was supposed to be completed by March 2020.  When contacted, the Delhi government spokesperson and the Minister’s office did not comment on the “problems” with the study.  The committee flagged multiple issues with the study, including the methodology used and data generated.  This was conveyed to the team from the university in October and again in November, said officials.  The team finally replied in December. “After looking into the reply, the panel said in its report that the study has many limitations and it has not helped in finding sources of pollution on a real-time basis,” a second official said. 


The government has paid about ₹50 lakh for the study till now, which is the first of two installments for the study, officials said, adding that if the study is now done by another agency, they can use a lot of the data generated from the current study. On July 3, 2018, the Delhi Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had approved a proposal for the study.  Delhi’s AQI The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 290 (poor) on Saturday and is likely to be in the “poor to very poor” category on Sunday.  “The cold day conditions are forecast to intensify and surface winds are forecast to slow down. AQI is forecast to stay in the poor to a very poor category on Sunday and may deteriorate further from Monday,” said monitoring agency SAFA.

The study sought to find sources of air pollution in and around Delhi.



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