The city will get at least two more continuous ambient air-quality monitoring stations (CAAQMS) — or real-time air quality reporting stations — and each district two such stations by next March. All these equipment are indigenously developed by state public sector organization Webel at almost one-third the price of the imported ones.
At present, Kolkata has seven and Howrah three such stations. Air quality in the districts is measured manually. Apart from Kolkata and Howrah, Siliguri, Asansol, Haldia and Budge Budge each have one real-time air quality stations. “Collecting real-time air quality data is crucial for analysis of pollution level and working out remedial measures,” PCB chairman Kalyan Rudra told TOI.
PCB is looking at procuring 58 new units. While the units that are currently installed cost around Rs 1 crore each, PCB intends to purchase the machines from Webel for Rs 30 lakh apiece. But before buying the units, PCB will run a pilot study of two units, one at the Administrative Training Institute in Salt Lake and the other at Birla Industrial and Technological Museum in Ballygunge alongside the existing stations to tally the data.
Most of the new stations will be installed on university campuses and their affiliated colleges. Vice-chancellors of nearly all universities responded to the PCB chairman’s call and agreed to provide space for the stations. The urban development department has provided space for four stations. Each unit requires 270 sqft, less than the size of a storeroom in an apartment.