Coimbatore is set to get a real-time air pollution monitor soon. It is learnt that a suggestion to this effect has been made by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to the state pollution control board and the former has agreed to partially fund it.
A senior Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) official said real-time monitors will broadcast pollution data directly to its servers. A senior TNPCB said it would help experts to calculate pollution levels in the city more accurately. However, TNPCB is yet to notify the CPCB proposal.
Currently, real-time air pollution monitors are used at Royapuram and Kathivakkam in Chennai and Cuddalore and Tuticorin. Officials said TNPCB is about to complete the installation of a new monitor at Koyambedu, a traffic hotspot in Chennai. "Purchase of two new real-time monitors suggested by CPCB is being considered by TNPCB. If we approve it, Coimbatore and Manali, a highly polluted industrial area near Chennai, will get advanced systems to monitor air pollution," said a senior TNPCB official.
The monitoring station, which costs around Rs 70 lakh, has to be housed in an air-conditioned chamber. It will have sensors to record pollution levels automatically and will function round the clock. It will also have power back up systems. The present air monitoring stations do not function during outages.
Experts have been claiming that the manual stations underestimate actual pollution in the city as they are unable to generate accurate data. "It is high time for us to revise the pollution monitoring standards. New pollutants can be found in urban environment and we lack a proper system to analyse levels of benzene and other dangerous pollutants. The current PM10 (particulate pollution) standard also has to be revised," said a senior consultant working for the state environment department.
Another pollution expert working for government projects on conditions of anonymity said the recent Diwali pollution figures from manual monitors in Chennai were unusually low. He said the data looked faulty to those who have tracked pollution levels in the city for long, especially the levels of oxides of nitrogen (NOx). "How is this possible? It can only happen if the monitor is fixed at the wrong location or if the data was manually corrected later," he said.