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Real-time Source Apportionment Study

Real-time Source Apportionment study for Delhi

In order to understand the pollutants of air in Delhi on a real-time basis and to suggest short, medium and long-term recommendations for reducing air pollution contributions, DDC Delhi worked closely with Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Government of NCT of Delhi to evaluate the performance of a team from the University of Washington which had attempted to set up a real-time source apportionment lab for air pollution in Delhi.

Based on the experiences, a joint team of IIT Kanpur, TERI and IIT Delhi was recommended to take the project forward and a detailed proposal was drafted for conducting a study to find out real-time information to help identify the factors behind the spike in air pollution in Delhi. The proposal for the identification of the sources of air pollution in Delhi with the aim to guide mitigation measures was presented by a team of scientists represented by Prof. Mukesh Sharma from IIT-Kanpur to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Delhi in February 2021 for approval, and it was approved by the Delhi Cabinet in July 2021. By granting the Cabinet approval in such a short time during the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Delhi Government reiterated its strong commitment to curb air pollution.

In October 2021, an MoU was signed between IIT Kanpur and DPCC in the presence of Prof. A. R. Harish, Dean of Research and Development from IIT Kanpur’s side and Dr. K. S. Jayachandran, Member Secretary, DPCC from Delhi Government’s side to kickstart the project.

A team of scientists headed by IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Delhi, The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI) and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali set up a real-time source apportionment and pollution forecasting system in Delhi. On behalf of the Department of Environment, GNCTD, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has been authorized to act as the nodal agency for executing the study.

A mobile laboratory equipped with instruments will scour various areas in Delhi and provide apportionment of the sources at multiple locations. There will also be a state-of-the-art supersite capable of monitoring NOx, SO2, Ozone, BTX, elemental carbon, organic carbon, and other organic compounds, where data will be collected and interpreted for necessary action.

In February 2022, DPCC and the Environment Department of Delhi Government conducted the second review of the project titled with the team from IIT Kanpur and other partner organisations.

Key highlights presented by IIT Kanpur team included the successful contracting with IIT Delhi, TERI and other partners for their respective scope of work, closure of the tender process for purchase of India-based equipment like real-time ambient air analyzer and online particulate matter and ion analysis system, timely progress of global tender for purchase of advanced equipment, and progress on the development of the air pollution forecasting system to provide hourly, daily and weekly data on air pollution.

The IIT Kanpur team had also visited a few locations in Delhi to identify a suitable location for the set-up of a supersite which is very critical for the study. Based on these options, the most suitable location will be made available by Delhi Government to them. TERI had also started the groundwork for the creation of a 2022 emissions inventory which will be useful for pollution forecasting. This emissions inventory will be extremely advanced and have a fine spatial resolution of 500m x 500m (compared to the 2km x 2km resolution used by IITM for the SAFAR pollution forecasting).

In May 2022, another review of the project was conducted under the chairmanship of Environment Minister Shri Gopal Rai to speed up the pace of pollution reduction in Delhi. The first super site of the Real-Time Source Apportionment System has been chosen at SKV, Pandara Road. This supersite will take up 36 square metres of space. The supersite and mobile lab for the Real-Time Source Apportionment System are expected to be launched in August 2022.

Key Features of the Project

The Project would:

  • Help to understand the real-time effect of various pollution sources like vehicles, dust, biomass burning, stubble burning, and smoke emanating from factories
  • Provide daily and weekly forecasting of air quality and Air Quality Index (AQI) at multiple locations, within and outside Delhi, and real-time diurnal source apportionment
  • Weekly, monthly, and seasonal interpretation of air quality will take place, along with additional knowledge of PAHs, molecular markers, and secondary organic and inorganic aerosols
  • PM10 source apportionment will be considered after the winter analysis of PM2.5 and source apportionment, which will have separate financial implications.

Based on the results obtained, the team will suggest short-term daily and weekly actions to systematically assess, reduce, and prevent air quality deterioration in Delhi for many years to come. This model has been tried and proven successful in developing countries and cities.

The technology to carry out real-time source apportionment of pollution has not been implemented in any other city in the country, and Delhi Government will be the first to find out and monitor the sources of air pollution on a real-time basis. Based on these findings, the Delhi government will be able to take the necessary steps to reduce pollution from specific sources. This will aid in the identification and mitigation of various pollution-causing factors. Furthermore, pollution forecasting will assist the government in making important policy decisions such as construction and vehicular restrictions in advance.

Shri Gopal Rai, Environment Minister, GNCTD

Currently, due to the absence of a reliable forecasting system, we are bound to make decisions based on previous years’ experience rather than the future forecast.

Smt. Reena Gupta, Consultant (Environment), DDC