New Delhi: Greenpeace India on Tuesday said "flaws still remain" in the National Air Quality Index (NAQI), launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a year back, while accessibility of data on air pollution continues to be "skewed".
The NGO said "sadly" NAQI continues to be plagued by several discrepancies in the investment in infrastructure and the existing system is far from being reliable both in collection and dissemination of data.
"One year ago, when the Prime Minister launched the NAQI platform to monitor the air quality in major urban centres across the country on a real-time basis, Greenpeace had welcomed the initiative with caution and flagged a few limitations...
"...its limited scope, lack of transparency, and above all, lack of vision to make air quality data widely available and useful to citizens. On the first anniversary of the launch, a Greenpeace analysis of the current status of the Index reveals that several systemic flaws till remain," the NGO said in a statement.
It said that the accessibility of data on air pollution continues to be "skewed".
NAQI was launched to monitor air quality in 10 cities and there were plans to expand it to 46 cities. However, as on April 2 this year, NAQI monitors only in 23 cities.
Overall, there are only 39 monitoring stations in 46 cities limiting the scope of the Index drastically, it said.
"This number appears woefully inadequate in the context of the air pollution crisis India is facing. China, in response to a similar crisis, has as many as 1,500 monitoring stations. NAQI can be a powerful tool if implemented in its true spirit.
"It continues to be plagued by several discrepancies in the investment in infrastructure. The existing system is far from reliable in both, collection and dissemination of data, with no agreed steps for how the data will be utilised," said Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
He said real time publication of data needs to be coupled with an effective health advisory mechanism, one which can hold institutions accountable for and responsive to bad quality air days.
"The Index data also needs to be used more proactively, with adequate information shared about precautionary measures that the public can take, while the authorities take action to address the root causes of air pollution," he said.
"Greenpeace continues to demand a systematic clean air action plan with defined timelines and accountability towards public health. Public data sharing along with expanding the network to new places with right mix of policies can help India take a major stride towards resolving air pollution.