Public participation need of hour to combat air pollution: Env Min official

Public participation is the need of the hour to control the spike in air pollution, a senior official of the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

In her address at the launch of a web repository by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) here, Nidhi Khare, Joint Secretary, Environment Ministry, said collective effort of all stakeholders was needed to combat air pollution.

"The government has taken a number of initiatives to combat air pollution. However, the need of the hour is the collective effort of policy makers, regulators, scientists/academicians and most importantly public participation to control the episodes of high air pollution," Khare said.

Air pollution is being widely debated while Delhi-NCR is enveloped in a thick blanket of smog after Diwali.

In the last few days, while the Delhi government has blamed the neighbouring states for stubble burning, the central government has slammed the city government for politicising the issue.

The CSIR-NEERI launched the Indian air quality Interactive Repository or IndAIR, which has archived approximately 700 scanned materials from pre-internet era (1950-1999), 1,215 research articles, 170 reports and case studies, 100 cases and over 2,000 statues, to provide the history of air pollution research and legislation in the country.

Such a repository on the subject of air pollution is one of the first in the world.

At the launch, chairman of pollution watchdog CPCB, S P S Parihar, said that the website will be a useful platform for the scientific community to share its current work and to exchange ideas.

"While the website would enable us to get insights into reasons for air pollution and efforts that were made to deal with such issues in the past, it is expected that this will also be a useful platform for the scientific community to share its current work and to exchange ideas," Parihar said.

Rakesh Kumar, Director NEERI, said, "Though air pollution is one of the most widely deliberated issues, little is known about it in India as far as the statistics or the history is concerned. The general belief has been that not much is being done to tackle the problem."

"We began IndAIR with the intent to document important milestones in the country and make them available to the public. Our hope is that it will not only help the academicians understand the issue better, but will also enable policy makers to frame legislations that encourage development," Kumar said.

Various institutions like The Energy Resources Institute (TERI), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) also partnered on the project with NEERI.

At present, CPCB has about 700 air quality monitoring stations and more than 100 continuous air quality monitoring stations (CAAMS).