The Union Environment Ministry has roped in PSUs like NTPC, Coal India and NMDC to fund the setting up of over 60 Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations across 12 cities by this year-end.
The project, requiring an investment of between Rs 400-500 crore, will see new stations being set up which, unlike the existing air monitoring stations, would have better equipment to measure eight air quality parameters -- PM 2.5, PM 10, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, ammonia, oxides of nitrogen and benzene, toluene and xylene (BTX) -- out of 12.
"We are aiming to set up over 60 monitoring stations in 12 cities by the year-end. This will require a minimum of Rs 400- 500 crore. Obviously, we are looking at PSUs and banks to fund this initiative as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) spending," a senior Environment Ministry official told PTI.
So far, NTPC, Coal India, Power Finance Corporation and NMDC have given their consent towards funding the initiative while some more firms are expected to come on board soon, the official said, adding that the government is also in talks with public and private banks in this regard.
"We are also requesting industry bodies like CII to instal the stations on their own. We will take the responsibility for monitoring," the official said.
The ministry is also holding discussions with the MeT Department, which has its own monitoring stations in different parts of the country, to enlist its support for the project.
Initially, the ministry is looking to establish at least 5-7 monitoring stations in the selected cities, among which are included Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Vizag, Durgapur, Dhanbad, Varanasi and Raipur.
"The cost of each monitoring station is estimated to be Rs 1.5 crore. We are working to bring it down to at least Rs 1 crore," the official said, adding that the ministry will soon issue a tender for purchase of the devices.
"We will call for a bid to procure the technologies. We have already prepared a tender document. Since the equipment will be funded by PSUs, basic courtesy demands that we involve them. We have sent the tender document for their approval," the official added.
The ministry has so far set up five Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations in Delhi, which will soon be upgraded, the official said.
Besides five stations, Delhi has 10 air monitoring stations set up by the MeT Department and another six stations established by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.