Importance of Technological Advancement in the Field of Pollution Monitoring

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Walking down most streets in any major city in India, two thing in common, the diverse culture and the pollution. One may not tolerate the other culture but easily accept the air with burning sensation, or if that is missing, at least wrappers, tea cups, polythene bags and the like thrown across the streets.

The concentrations of carbon monoxide from vehicular emissions in 1996 showed an increase of 92 percent over the values observed in 1989, consequent upon the increase in vehicular population. A recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) points to the fact that India is home to 13 of the top 20 cities for air pollution. It is because India's air has a lot of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 that is instrumental in a large number of lung ailments. The health risks of living in such a toxic environment cannot be overstated. These include the onset of asthma and cancer as well as triggers to heart attack and stroke.
The central and state governments are actively taking part in a major debate that is happening about the ongoing environmental issues in India. The central government's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Clean Ganga Mission and Delhi government's Odd Even Formula for Delhi Traffic are aimed at this. However, so long as there is no social consensus on the issues, much will remain unaccomplished.

The recent National Air Quality Index (AQI) is also a step in this direction. The index has uniform six categories - Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe. The AQI also considers eight pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3, and Pb) for which up to 24-hour average period National Ambient Air Quality standards are prescribed.

On the other side government's "Make in India" policy could make the pollution crisis even worse. There are no ecological or social criteria about "making" in India. On the contrary, environmental and labor laws are being diluted to attract investors, without social and ecological conditions. Without environmental safeguards, this policy will destroy the soil, uproot farmers, contribute to deforestation, and increased pollution. It does not necessarily mean blocking projects that are critical to national development but bringing in stringent guidelines for manufacturers to comply with stricter pollution standards and continuous Pollution Monitoring.

But if we look into the available pollution monitoring devices manufactured in India, these devices really lagging in technological advancements and need attention from electronics, embedded and IT geeks. 


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