Clean watch, green drive

By N Raghuram
Published: Friday 15 March 1996

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is on a massive public aware- ness campaign against pollution, especially in urban areas. A new addition to its strategy is an electronic signboard (LED display panel) which highlights air pollution at a busy traffic crossing near ITO, New Delhi.

The panel, perched atop a high- rise building, displays sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and suspended particulate matter figures, which are written as 502, NOx and 5PM respectively. "The figures displayed are fed directly from an on-the-spot monitoring station through a computer ," says Dileep Biswas, chairman, CPCB.

The present display costs about Rs 2 lakhs. At least 50 such panels are needed to cover Delhi alone. According to Biswas, the aim of this exercise is to arouse environmental concern in the common man. But ironically, the messages of the board are in English. And even for several English-reading people, 502, NOx and 5PM does not make immediate sense. Then there are units like IJg/m3, which very few can follow.

For those who can follow the reading, they cannot arrive at any conclusion because of ignorance about the 'normal' pollutant levels existing in 'clean' air, and the 'permissible' levels.

According to Biswas, 'pollution awareness and assistance centres' would soon be set up in all state capitals. The CPCB is also setting up vehicular pollution monitoring booths all over Delhi. A permanent stall on environment and pollution would also come up in the capital's National Science Museum.

Buttressing his point on community-based pollution control, Biswas proposes to start a joint venture with NGOs called "Abatement of Pollution through Community Action, or APCA". This includes water and energy conservation, waste minimisation. management of municipal solid wastes, industrial pollution control, vehicular emission control. noise control and plantation and maintenance of green cover.

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