An Air Quality Index (AQI) has been launched for 10 cities -- Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) to monitor the quality of air in major cities in India on a real-time basis and enhance public awareness. The Environment Ministry proposes to extend it to to 22 state capitals and 44 other cities with a population exceeding 10 lakh each.
The AQI assumes significance as Delhi -- termed the most-polluted city in the world -- and other cities have raised deep concern over their bad air quality. The AQI will have 'one number, one colour and one description' to inform the public about air quality in a simple format. Each city will have 6-7 continuous monitoring stations with AQI display boards. The AQI may prove to be a major initiative for improving air quality as it would enhance public awareness and involvement and create a competitive environment among cities for air pollution-mitigation. It has been developed by the Central Pollution Control Board in consultation with IIT-Kanpur and an expert group comprising medical, air-quality professionals and other stakeholders.
In the AQI, there are 6 categories: Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very poor and Severe. The index considers eight pollutants -- PM10, PM2.5, NO2, SO2, CO, O3, NH3 and Pb). The likely health implications would also be provided with a colour code. With this step, India has joined the US, China, Mexico and France which have implemented smog alert systems.