Dust monitors to be made mandatory on Delhi construction sites

Construction is one of the main sources of particulate pollution in Delhi (photo: Sumitmpsd/Wikipedia)
Construction is one of the main sources of particulate pollution in Delhi (photo: Sumitmpsd/Wikipedia)

Airborne dust is one of the main sources of pollution in Delhi. A 2018 joint study by the Energy & Resources Institute and the Automotive Research Association of India found that construction contributed 25% of PM2.5 and 17% of PM10 pollution in the city during the winter season.

‘PM2.5’ refers to particulate matter in which the particles are less that 2.5 micrometres in diameter; PM10 particles are less that 10 micrometres in diameter.

In 2020 the Delhi government published guidance containing 14 measures that must be followed at construction sites to combat dust pollution.

The new regulations currently under consideration would require all construction sites measuring 20,000 square metres or more to install three air quality monitors to record dust emissions on a continuous basis.

The system must have the capacity for simultaneous monitoring of PM2.5 and PM10 and data transfer on a real-time basis to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

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Reena Gupta, an advisor to the Delhi government, told the Times of India: “The government has decided to make dust norms more stringent and installation of air pollution monitors will be made compulsory at large construction sites.

“Rules are already in place for small construction sites to install low-cost sensors to monitor dust pollution. However, as Municipal Corporation of Delhi [MCD] maintains data related to small construction activities happening in neighbourhoods, there is no information if the norm is complied with at such sites. DPCC has asked MCD to share data for ensuring compliance of all norms,” added Gupta.

Gupta said that installing dust monitors will benefit contractors that are not generating pollution. “When air quality severely deteriorates, restrictive action like a ban on construction activity comes into place,” she explained.

“[But] if air quality monitors are installed at construction sites, construction agencies can claim that their sites are not adding to the dust pollution, depending on the reading on the air quality monitors.”

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