PCB fails to monitor air pollution,rue shortage of staff, equipment

SOLAN: Due to acute shortage of field staff and requisite equipments, the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) is yet to start monitoring air pollution as per the revised National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) norms, notified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2009.

PCB fails to monitor air pollution,rue shortage of staff, equipment

The Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh industrial belt. A file photo

editorial@tribune.com

Ambika Sharma

Tribune News Service

Solan, December 26

Due to acute shortage of field staff and requisite equipments, the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) is yet to start monitoring air pollution as per the revised National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQ) norms, notified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in November 2009.

As per board officials, the concentration of gaseous pollutants like sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen monitored in different industrial areas of the state, including Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh, Paonta Sahib, Kala Amb, Damtal, Barmana, Parwanoo and other locations, were within the prescribed limit but the annual average of other air contaminants, such as respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) and particulate matter in areas like the BBN and Kala Amb, was above the prescribed limit.

Though the board officials attributed this to added construction activities, including widening of road, vehicular emissions and industrialisation, not much has been done to install the requisite machinery to ensure monitoring of air quality as per the revised norms.

It was worth mentioning that the board was still monitoring air quality on the basis of three parameters- sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and RSPM- which defeated the very purpose of monitoring air quality.

As per the revised NAAQ norms, air quality is supposed to be measured on various parameters, including sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter of varying dimension, ozone, lead, carbon mono oxide, ammonia, benzene, benzoa pyrene, arsenic and nickel.

Board’s member secretary Vineet Kumar said additional facilities were being created for monitoring the additional five parameters notified in the NAAQ standards notified in 2009 by the CPCB and for the remaining parameters, like benzene and benzoa pyrene, steps were being taken to procure online monitoring instruments.

The board’s oft-repeated excuse of making available new monitoring instruments failed to hold ground as five years had elapsed since the new norms had been notified.

With shortage of staff making it difficult to even manage the existing monitoring of air quality, enhancement of field staff was the need of the hour. In Baddi, which figured amongst the most polluting areas, the air quality monitoring station failed to be run for 24 hours as there were only two people available.

Vineet Kumar confirmed that there was an acute shortage of staff and out of the 207 posts only 136 were filled. The situation was worst with regard to the field staff where against 20 junior engineers only five were available, out of eight posts of lab assistants 50 per cent were vacant and most significantly, out of the sanctioned eight posts of Junior Scientific Assistants, only one was filled. With barely eight of the 22 posts of clerks being filled, the board was now preparing to recruit nine clerks.

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