The State of the Air Quality of Gurgaon

Considering Gurgaon’s proximity to Delhi, which is ranked first on the list of the most polluted cities in the world, and the fact that Gurgaon is getting industrialized at breakneck speed, it would be well worth investigating the quality of air in the crisis laden city. The spotlight has been on the capital ever since it came to be known that it has left Beijing, last year’s topper, far behind as far as worsening air quality is concerned. Would the other cities in the NCR be immune to this problem? The scenario that Gurgaon offers may be as bad as Delhi’s.

What the CSE experiment revealed last year (winter statistics)

A Times of India report dated 24th December, 2014 revealed a situation that threw up some grave statistics. It quoted some data from a portable air pollution measuring device used by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) that was used to record levels of particulate matter considered hazardous for the respiratory system, including very small particles categorized as PM 2.5, the worst kind of pollutant floating around in the noxious air of the NCR region.

But before we get to the statistics, you need a standard against which to compare exactly how to interpret the information available as good, moderate or severe. See below the Air Pollution Index provided by the Indian Meteorological Institute Pune, which classifies particulate matter concentrations as per severity.

Air Pollution Index_ITM

The CSE conducted this study on the IFFCO Chowk-Cyber Green Office area- Sohna Road-Artemis hospital- Amity International School- Medanta-Rajiv Chowk- Civil Hospital-Sadar Bazar-Udyog Vihar stretch, one that is used by most of the citizens at least one day of the week. The hourly average concentrations of PM 2.5 were found to be 966 micrograms/ cubic metre at IFFCO Chowk during evening hours (peak traffic), which is almost FOUR TIMES the concentration levels marked as very unhealthy by the Air Pollution Index above. During late evening hours, the readings CROSSED THE 1,000 mark at Cyber Greens Office area.

Even in the mornings, at the time when people go for jogs and children leave for their schools, the particulate matter concentrations were comparatively high. This demonstrates how bad the situation is during winters, when particulate matter coalesces and remains suspended in the air for long periods of time due to reduced air saturation levels and low temperature.

The US EPA Real Time Air Quality Index data (summer statistics)

The United States Environment Protection Agency has an Air Quality Index for which real time data are shown for various cities around the world. The data that it showed at the time of writing of this article for the NCR region included the areas of Anand Vihar, Mandir Marg, R.K.Puram, ITO and Civil Lines in Delhi. Though the data for Gurgaon was not available, one can get a fair idea of how polluted the air in the NCR region is and what ranges it lies in during summers, from this data. Look at the image below for more details. 161 corresponds to Mandir Marg, 275 corresponds to R.K Puram and 410 to Anand Vihar. Though they are not as high as they may be during winters, they are high enough to fall in the unhealthy to very unhealthy category as per the API given in the section above.


What the Haryana pollution Control Board (continuous ambient air quality) records show

A disparity has been noticed in what is shown in by the indices we have covered thus far and the data that has just been released by the Haryana State Pollution Control Board. The biggest discrepancy that is noticed from their report, taken from the period 1-4-2015 to 3-5-2015, is the fact that readings for PM 2.5 have been omitted, except for the last three days. These too seem to be in the normal range. Why the data for the particles that affect us most severely, were not available is a matter of conjecture.

PM 2.5 levels peaked at 207, which comes in the ‘poor’ range, while CO was found to touch 8.3, which is considered moderate. Such records do not seem to suggest a grave situation. The location from where the readings have been taken is on the Sohna Manesar Road, according to a report by the Times of India dated 24th January, 2015.  There is just one stationary machine that takes the readings. Such a method of collecting data has caused discrepancies in the readings, admits HSPCB senior scientist Dinesh Kumar. CSE head Anumita Roy Chowdhury was of the opinion that the mechanism used by the authorities is not competent. The table is shown below in two separate images.

HSPCB Gurgaon records HSPCB Gurgaon records 2


The fact that Gurgaon has twice more number of cars and two wheelers (232) per 1,000 people than even Delhi (120) is not helping matters at all. With a 250% growth rate that Gurgaon is currently witnessing, there is going to be a steeper and sustained rise in automobile acquisition in the years to come. Also, the National Green Tribunal has recognized the fact that construction debris is contributing to the worsening quality of air in the entire NCR region, for remedying which it has issued several warnings in the near past. The respective governments are yet to take action on the same.

Now is the time to recognize where we are going wrong and take appropriate action. If you wish our future generations to breathe in a clean environment, proactive steps must be taken today. It is still not too late. Taking small steps towards contributing to limiting noxious particulates in the air, such as car pooling, can easily help circumvent the damage dealt. What is more important is to implement them.








Comments (9)

  • I do agree that authorities and monitoring agencies tend to downplay or manupulate the pollution level data sov hat a rosy picture is presented to the world and Gurgaon citizens .We need more and more and sophisticated monitoring devices to call their bluff

    suresh kaul
    • Rightly said Suresh. In fact, the more collaborative and concerted an effort this becomes, the better. Including private research institutions and international research teams such as the US EPA will help get the best technology possible to monitor air pollution levels in Gurgaon. But even more important is to spread awareness. Please do discuss this issue with your acquaintances, friends, colleagues and family to raise awareness. It is the citizens who are the biggest actors in this endeavor. If each of us uses our resources wisely, the problem of pollution will be solved in no time.

  • Pollution. Here is too grave that.y 3 year old kid became asthmatic within 2 years. To my view parks should be maintained ed properly with lots of swings a day plants and trees so the people should avoid taking there kids outside rather spending time in parks nearby their own locality. If everybody starts doing great that pollution can be reduced

    • Rightly said Kamna. In fact children are developing smoker’s lungs at a young age because of the seriously high level of pollutants in the air. Everybody does need to do their own bit, otherwise it will become impossible for our children to live safe lives in the future.

  • You have highlighted the problem. Good.
    But, What is the practical solution? You must also write in detail about what you think the practical solutions can be. Just car pooling won’t solve the problem.

    Your article points to 2 causes of this problem: 1. Construction debris 2. Automobile exhausts
    Are there other causes? How to deal with them?

    Also, these days automobiles are fitted with new exhaust systems. Vehicles need to get pollution checked every 3 months.
    How do you propose to improve air quality in Gurgaon? A detailed writeup on that should help.

    • Dear Manan,
      As far as automobile exhausts are concerned, reducing the reliability on cars and using public transport systems at least once a week can reduce the total volume of ambient particulate matter to an extent. To this end, Iamgurgaon is whole-heartedly supporting the Car Free Day movement in Gurgaon. These are baby steps. There is lots left to do. Why don’t you suggest something for the construction debris problem?

  • During winters the air quality also suffers due to the paddy fields around Delhi ncr regions. after the harvest the farmers burn the fields. That significantly downgrades the air quality. The factories in gurgaon also form a part of the problem, along with the night time traffic of trucks. The air quality problem here is many folds deep.

    The question is therefore many folds deep. What can the individual do? What can the government do? What can the corporate sector do?

  • It seems like I’m constantly finding out about other ways that we’re harming our environment. It depresses me to read about all of the damage we’re causing – especially to our air. I’ve been doing tons of reading over the past 12 months or so, and I was probably most surprised to hear that the EPA has discovered that the air inside of the normal US home is even two to five times worse than the air outside. If you combine this with the data that healthy adults can handle up to 70,000 liters of air a day, it seems like a legitimate for concern regarding the continued pollution of our environment. How can we expect to stay free of illness – no matter how well we try to live and take care of our bodies – if we’re steadily breathing in airborne particles and contaminants?

  • Hi,

    i am a resident of sector – 22, gurgaon, from couple of months i have been noticing a faulty rubber burning smell in huge amount in local which can be felt in SECTOR – 22, 23, PALAM VIHAR etc.
    I want to complain about this can any body guide me to right authorities.

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