Air quality monitoring in India

Context:Severely polluted days in Delhi are again started to increase as the winter are coming.


SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research)

  • SAFAR envisages a research-based management system where strategies of air pollution mitigation go hand in hand with nation’s economic development to target a win-win scenario.
  • Under the plan scheme “Metropolitan Advisories for Cities for Sports and Tourism (Metropolitan Air Quality and Weather Services), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), has introduced a major national initiative, “System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research” known as “SAFAR” for greater metropolitan cities of India to provide location specific information on air quality in near real time and its forecast 1-3 days in advance for the first time in India.
  • It has been combined with the early warning system on weather parameters.
  • The system, first of its kind in the country, was developed indigenously in record time by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, along with India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF). and operationalized by India Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • The implementation of SAFAR is made possible with an active collaboration with local municipal corporations and various local educational institutions and governmental agencies in that Metro city.
  • In addition to regular air quality parameters like PM2.5, PM10, Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide, the system will also monitor the existence of Benzene, Toluene and Xylene.
  • This mission model project SAFAR is implemented in four cities of India – Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Ahmedabad as an operational service.
  • Through SAFAR we can know the air quality not only over all city pollution but also location specific air quality.
  • The ultimate objective of the project is to increase awareness among general public regarding the air quality in their city well in advance so that appropriate mitigation measures and systematic action can be taken up for betterment of air quality and related health issues.
  • Recently, the government unveiled a state-of-the-art Air Quality and Weather Forecast System– SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting) at Chandni Chowk in Delhi.
  1. The giant true colour LED display gives out real-time air quality index on 24×7 basis with colour coding along with 72-hour advance forecast.
  2. SAFAR has been coming out with daily bulletins on Delhi’s air quality and it also has the percentage contribution of stubble burning in neighbouring States to Delhi’s air pollution. The contribution has ranged from 0% to 9% from October 9-16.
  3. SAFAR takes into account the number of fires that is happening in Delhi’s neighbouring States from four different satellites (of which only two are Indian so that it will be more accurate) and calculates the amount of PM2.5 based on it.
  4. This data is fed to a Chemistry Transport Forecast Model, which is basically a software, that will take into consideration different factors such as wind speed, temperature and rain among others to find how much of the PM2.5 generated would reach Delhi.

National Clean Air Programme 

  • It has been launched by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • It is a medium term (five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year) national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country.
  • It aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 most polluted cities by 2024.
  • It includes both monitoring network across the country besides ensuring comprehensive management plan for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
  • Integral components of the strategy framework:
  1. Increasing number of existing manual and continuous monitoring stations,
  2. Introducing rural monitoring stations
  3. Identifying alternative technology for real-time monitoring network
  4. Augmenting capabilities of existing monitoring stations to measure PM2.5 concentration 
  5. An Air Information Centre as well as an Air Quality Forecasting system
  6. Both city-specific source apportionment studies as well as a national-level emission inventory. 
  • While the document (NCAP) mentions emission reduction targets, nowhere does it actually quantify these targets. 
  • City level action plans of around 102 cities had been approved by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to meet the NCAP target of 20% to 30% reduction in PM 2.5 (respirable pollution particles) concentrations over 2017 annual concentration.
  • Some of the important measures that are to be taken by the Centre under NCAP include:
  1. Setting up a web-based system for monitoring of compliance with NCAP targets;
  2. comprehensive regional plan to be formulated by incorporating inputs from regional source apportionment studies, such as a regional plan for the Indo-Gangetic plain region;
  3. Compliance by all thermal power plants with the emission norms by December 2022;
  4. Switch over to gaseous fuels in industries, including small and medium enterprises by December 2022;
  5. Enforcement of new and stringent sulphur dioxide (SO2)/ oxides of nitrogen (NOx) / PM2.5 standards for industries using solid fuels by 2020;
  6. Mandatory waste segregation at source and state level air pollution action plan, among others.

National Air Quality Index (AQI)

  • The air quality index (AQI) is an index for reporting air quality on a daily basis.
  • The purpose of the AQI is to help people know how the local air quality impacts their health.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change) calculates the AQI 
  • AQI is an initiative under ‘Swachh Bharat’ 
  • It is to act as ‘One Number- One Colour-One Description’ to judge the Air Quality for Common Man.
  • There are six AQI categories, namely Good, Satisfactory, Moderately polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe. 
  • The Air Quality Index (AQI) is the weighted average of different pollutants.
  • A lower value of AQI means better air quality.
  • It considers eight pollutants [PM10, PM2.5, Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Sulphur dioxide (SO2), Carbon monoxide (CO), Ozone (O3), Ammonia (NH3) and Lead (Pb)] for which short-term (up to 24-hourly averaging period) National Ambient Air Quality Standards are prescribed.

National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP)

  • Executed nation-wide by Central Pollution Control Board through a network of operating stations covering cities/towns in twenty six (26) states and four (4) Union Territories. (Not all states)
  • The objectives of the N.A.M.P. are
  1. To determine status and trends of ambient air quality;
  2. To ascertain whether the prescribed ambient air quality standards are violated;
  3. To Identify Non-attainment Cities;
  4. To understand the natural cleansing process undergoing in the environment through pollution dilution, dispersion, wind-based movement, dry deposition, precipitation and chemical transformation of pollutants generated.

Four air pollutants are being monitored

  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
  • Oxides of Nitrogen as NO2
  • Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM / PM10)
  • Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5)

The monitoring is being carried out with the help of:

  • Central Pollution Control Board;
  • State Pollution Control Boards;
  • Pollution Control Committees;
  • National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur. 

Clean Air India Initiative

  • India in collaboration with the Netherlands has launched the ‘Clean Air India Initiative’ which aims to curb air pollution in Indian cities by promoting partnerships between Indian start-ups and Dutch companies and build a network of entrepreneurs working on business solutions for cleaner air.

Clean Air India Initiative

  • India in collaboration with the Netherlands has launched the ‘Clean Air India Initiative’ which aims to curb air pollution in Indian cities by promoting partnerships between Indian start-ups and Dutch companies and build a network of entrepreneurs working on business solutions for cleaner air.

National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI)

  • It is an umbrella organisation for operating retail payments and settlement systems in India.
  • It is an initiative of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) under the provisions of the Payment and Settlement Systems Act, 2007.
  • It has been incorporated as a “Not for Profit” Company under the provisions Section 8 of Companies Act 2013, with an intention to provide infrastructure to the entire Banking system in India for physical as well as electronic payment and settlement systems.
  • The ten core promoter banks are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, Bank of India, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Citibank N. A. and HSBC.
  • In 2016, the shareholding was broad-based to 56 member banks to include more banks representing all sectors.

Roles & Responsibilities of NPCI

  • NPCI owns and operates the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform.
  • NPCI prescribes rules, regulations, guidelines, and the respective roles, responsibilities and liabilities of the participants, with respect to UPI.
  • This also includes transaction processing and settlement, dispute management and clearing cut-offs for settlement.
  • NPCI approves the participation of Issuer Banks, PSP Banks, Third Party Application Providers (TPAP) and Prepaid Payment Instrument issuers (PPIs) in UPI.
  • NPCI provides a safe, secure and efficient UPI system and network.
  • NPCI provides online transaction routing, processing and settlement services to members participating in UPI.
  • NPCI can, either directly or through a third party, conduct audit on UPI participants and call for data, information and records, in relation to their participation in UPI.
  • NPCI provides the banks participating in UPI access to system where they can download reports, raise chargebacks, update the status of UPI transactions etc.

Payment system by NPCI: RuPay

  • RuPay is an Indigenously developed Payment System – designed to meet the expectation and needs of the Indian consumer, banks and merchant eco-system.
  • RuPay supports the issuance of debit, credit and prepaid cards by banks in India and thereby supporting the growth of retail electronic payments in India.

Product and Services of NPCI

A) National Financial Switch (NFS)

  • The National Financial Switch is the largest interconnected network of automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in India.
  • This system was developed by Institute of Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), Hyderabad in 2004.
  • It is run by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • It is through the National Financial Switch that the transactions made at any ATM could be routed to the connected banks.
  • The NPCI has allowed any bank offering the core banking services round the clock with or without ATM can be a part of this National Financial Switch through a sponsor bank.
  • The objective behind such a move is to enable the non-scheduled cooperative banks and other regional rural banks to access the wide network of ATMs in the country. Thereby, enabling the customers of such banks to access banking services through any ATM of a connected bank.

B) Immediate Payment Service (IMPS)

  • IMPS is an innovative real time payment service that is available round the clock.
  • This service is offered by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) that empowers customers to transfer money instantly through banks and RBI authorized Prepaid Payment Instrument Issuers (PPI) across India.

C) Cheque Truncation System

  • Truncation is the process of stopping the flow of the physical cheque issued by a drawer at some point by the presenting bank en-route to the paying bank branch.
  • In its place an electronic image of the cheque is transmitted to the paying branch through the clearing house.

D) RuPay Card

  • RuPay is a new card payment scheme launched by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).


  • The orange and green arrows indicate a nation on the move and a service that matches its pace.

The colour blue stands for the feeling of tranquility which is the people must get while owning a card of the brand ‘RuPay’.

  • The bold and unique typeface grants solidity to the whole unit and symbolizes a stable entity.

Advantages of RuPay Card

  • Lower cost and affordability as the transaction processing will happen domestically.
  • Customized product offering: RuPay, being a domestic scheme is committed towards development of customized product and service offerings for Indian consumers.
  • Protection of information related to Indian consumers: Transaction and customer data related to RuPay card transactions will reside in India. 
  • Provide electronic product options to untapped/unexplored consumer segment: Right pricing of RuPay products would make the RuPay cards more economically feasible for banks to offer to their customers. In addition, relevant product variants would ensure that banks can target the hitherto untapped consumer segments.
  • Inter-operability between payment channels and products.

Is RuPay Card accepted internationally?

  • UAE is the first country in the Gulf where Indian RuPay card has been launched.
  • RuPay Global card with Discover, Diners & Pulse Network logos is accepted at over 39.3 million POS locations and over 1.88 million ATM locations in 185 countries/territories worldwide!

E) Unified Payment Interface (UPI)

  • UPI is a payment system that allows money transfer between any two bank accounts by using a smartphone, without requiring details of the beneficiary’s bank account.
  • UPI allows a customer to pay directly from a bank account to different merchants, both online and offline, without the hassle of typing credit card details, IFSC code, or net banking/wallet passwords.

How safe is UPI?

  • It is safe as the customers only share a virtual address and provide no other sensitive information.

What kind transactions can be performed via UPI?

  • Merchant payments, remittances, bill payments among others.

Is there a per transaction limit?

  • The per transaction limit is Rs.1 lakh.

Recently, an upgraded version of the Unified Payments Interface (UPI), UPI 2.0, was launched.

Here are key features of UPI 2.0:

  • 1. Linking of overdraft account: In addition to current and savings accounts, customers can link their overdraft account (An overdraft occurs when money is withdrawn from a bank account and the available balance goes below zero) to UPI.
  • 2. One-time mandate: UPI mandate could be used in a scenario where money is to be transferred later by providing commitment at present. 
  • 3. Invoice in the inbox: This feature is designed for customers to check the invoice sent by merchant prior to making payment.
  • 4. Signed intent and QR: It notifies the user with information to ascertain whether the merchant is a verified UPI merchant or not.

F) Bharat QR

  • In an attempt to encourage more and more people to use less cash and make digital payments instead, the RBI authorized a few card payment networks to implement an interoperable solution for such QR Code operated mechanisms.
  • As a result, Visa, MasterCard and NPCI partnered to launch Bharat QR – a QR Code-based digital payment mechanism that merchant establishments, eCommerce and mCommerce websites are already using.

What is a QR Code?

  • The QR Code is a two-dimensional version of the barcode.
  • “QR” stands for “Quick Response”, which refers to the instant access to the information hidden in the Code.
  • QR Codes are gaining popularity because the technology is “open source”, i.e. available for everyone.
  • Significant advantages of QR Codes over conventional barcodes are larger data capacity and high fault tolerance.
  • For the scanner to recognize a QR Code as such, the Code must always be square.

What happens if a QR Code is damaged?

  • To ensure that the information contained in the QR Code can be read even if it is damaged, the data keys include duplications (redundancies).
  • Because of this, up to 30% of the Code structure can be destroyed without affecting the readability of the Code.

What can be stored in a QR Code?

  • Up to 7089 digits or 4296 characters, including punctuation marks and special characters, can be entered in one Code.
  • In addition to numbers and characters, words and phrases (e.g. Internet addresses) can be encoded as well.

G) Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS)

  • Bharat Bill Payment System is offering one-stop bill payment solution for all recurring payments with 200+ Billers in the categories Viz. Electricity, Gas, Water, Telecom, DTH, Loan Repayments, Insurance, FASTag Recharge, Cable etc. across India.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.