The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan, today said that the target of 10 percent rate of economic growth will be achieved by the Narendra Modi government without “collateral damage” in terms of the environment.
“Sab ko saath lekar chale’ is not only a social and political slogan. It is also a pledge for keeping environmental considerations uppermost in mind. Scientists and technologists in the laboratories and institutions under his charges are deep into developing solutions for the industry-environment conflict”, the Minister said while unveiling the System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) in Mumbai today.
As a medical practitioner, Dr Harsh Vardhan remarked, he feels personally responsible. “Pollution is killing us, emasculating our future generations. SAFAR is our package of preventive technologies. Among other things, for the first time we will reveal to ordinary citizens on a daily basis the level of ultraviolet radiation and carcinogenic mercury in the air that they breathe. This will surely lead to greater awareness and the people will demand from their government the necessary corrective steps,” he said.
The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri Devendra Fadnavis, senior officials of the State Government, of the union Ministry of Earth Sciences and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation were present on the occasion.
Dr Harsh Vardhan remarked, “Maharashtra is a pioneer state in scientific research since the middle of the 19th century. It is no surprise that systems like SAFAR are developed for the country in the Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.”
The Modi government has already initiated moves to take awareness of air pollution to the grassroots. Accordingly, the Ministry of Earth Sciences is developing technologies to predict air quality at the micro level within a city. In centres like SAFAR which are to come up in other cities and large towns affected by air pollution, it will also be possible to give location-specific forecasts up to three days in advance along with associated advisories to help people take preventive steps.
“Just the other day I was in Nagpur to commission a mobile unit developed by scientists of NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) to measure ambient air quality and emission levels. I decided that Pune must give India the lead in this and asked for the mobile unit to be taken to all the cities of India,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said.
SAFAR, he pointed out, would help citizens look up the air quality at a monitoring station near them, and decide what precautions to take based on it. Under the project, 10 Air Quality Monitoring Stations and 30 Automatic Weather Stations have been established in Mumbai along with 15 digital display systems to generate valuable data of scientific importance which is very useful for our scientific community also.
There are possibilities for the future too. Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “SAFAR would give information of current air quality, future weather conditions, alerts for extreme weather conditions and associated health advisories. People will also get to know intensity of harmful solar radiation in terms of the Ultra Violet Index.
He remarked, “I believe that this is really very useful for all of us to plan our outdoor activities and crop management. I am sure that it will act as a helpful tool for disaster management unit and hospital administrators also.”
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