NEW DELHI: While the real-time source apportionment study by IIT-Kanpur has been stalled since October 18 due to a fight between Delhi government and the bureaucracy, two other agencies under the Union earth sciences ministry have also stopped sharing information on sources of pollution in Delhi ahead of the peak pollution season, reports Priyangi Agarwal.
Calling for transparency, experts said data on sources was crucial in designing strategies against pollution and creating public awareness.
Two key agencies – the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) and the Decision Support System – have stopped sharing data publicly since earlier this month.

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The website of SAFAR gave the contribution of stubble burning in Delhi’s PM2.5 and fire counts on October 11 and 12 but discontinued it from October 13. Since 2017, SAFAR has been sharing data and forecasts on the number of farm fires and their percentage contribution to Delhi’s PM2.5 depending on wind direction, wind speed and other factors during the winter season, along with the share from other pollution sources.
The Decision Support System (DSS), which estimated the contribution of local sources and that of the sources in 19 NCR districts in Delhi’s PM2.5, has stopped sharing this information from Tuesday. Launched in October 2021, DSS data used to be available from September till mid-February. Though DSS was initially scheduled to resume from September this year, it began only on October 17 and was discontinued from October 24. Only those with login-IDs can access the data, says the website.
Both SAFAR and DSS are a part of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, which comes under the Union ministry of earth sciences. Despite repeated attempts, no response was received from IITM officials on the matter.

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Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director research and advocacy, Centre for Science and Environment, said, “Air pollution forecasting and real-time source apportionment assessment are among the key scientific tools needed for more science-based air quality management systems. This is needed for timely and informed decision-making on source-wise air pollution mitigation strategies, especially now when there’s an urgency to meet the national ambient air quality standards.”
Sunil Dahiya, analyst, Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), said, “Source apportionment data is crucial for researchers, public and policy makers in their efforts to tackle air pollution. These platforms help people in understanding the different pollution sources. It helps the media, researchers and campaigners in highlighting the quantum of local sources as well as those coming from outside of Delhi in terms of their geography of origin and source sectors.”
“Taking down such data from public domain shows the regressive mindset of policymakers. It shows an insincerity in tackling the problem,” Dahiya said.

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On Wednesday, environment minister Gopal Rai and service minister Atishi had said the real-time source apportionment study by IIT-Kanpur had been halted since October 18 after Delhi Pollution Control Committee chairperson Ashwani Kumar raised objections and did not release the pending instalment of Rs 2 crore.
Earlier, in a letter to IIT-Kanpur, Kumar had said, “The findings showed that areas other than Delhi were having strong pollution impact on the city while Delhi’s own pollution, intense anthropogenic activities and vehicular density was not showing similar impact in the areas outside Delhi. The report had attempted to distort the picture as if neighbouring states (not Delhi) are to be blamed for pollution in Delhi. In view of the dissatisfactory modelling and the absence of validation, it is suggested that the MoU with IIT-Kanpur may not be extended.”

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