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WBPCB sets up 75 air quality monitoring stations in Bengal

Kolkata: The West Bengal Pollution Control Board has set up 75 air quality monitoring stations in the state to check air quality level and combat pollution, a top official said today.
WBPCB Chairman Kalyan Rudra said that of the 75 air quality monitoring stations, 17 alone were located in Kolkata where pollution levels have risen sharply.
Rudra said the move was aimed at identifying pollution sources which can be fine-tuned as per priority to ensure an ambient air quality.
The WBPCB had 48 air monitoring stations all over the state in 2011, a senior official said adding the state-run pollution control body had increased the number substantially to bring all the zones under its network.
Rubbishing allegations that almost all the air monitoring stations of WBPCB were either outdated or defunct, Rudra said that among the 17 monitoring stations in the city, 15 are being operated manually while two are automated. One of the two stations is under renovation and is expected to be functional in a month.
To a query about reports of lack of devices equipped to measure PM 2.5, the WBPCB chief said among the air monitoring stations, four can measure PM 2.5 (particulate matter 2.5) while the rest can measure PM 10 (particulate matter 10).
Particles less than 2.5 PM (micrometres) are called PM 2.5. They are approximately 1/30th of the average width of human hair and is generally described as fine particles. PM 10 on the other hand is particulate matter 10 micrometres or less in diametre, an official explained.
On reports about air quality level having reached critical levels in the city, he said air quality is also governed by meteorological factors on which not much can be done during extreme weather conditions.
"Kolkata is certainly not among the top polluted cities in the world," he said.
Rudra said the WBPCB has collaborated with National Environment Engineering Research Institute to figure out the source of pollutants in Kolkata Metropolitan Area as part of the effort to create an ambient environment for the citizens.
Recently, the draft of National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) came out with a list of 100 "non-attainment cities" not having met the requisite air quality standards which included Kolkata.
Countering Rudra's claims, auto-emission expert and envirnmentalist S M Ghosh said, The situation is alarming and at least 40 more automatic air quality monitoring devices are badly needed for Kolkata."
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