Friday, April 24, 2015

Cost of Building a Robust Air Quality Monitoring and Information Dissemination Platform in India

Rs. 7500 crores for 10 years, for 50 cities, with at least 30 continuous monitoring stations each.

We put together some back of the envelope calculations to jump start the discussion on what it would take to build an all continuous air quality monitoring program in India. Full article is published @ India Together

Lets discuss, for the sake of feasibility, the 50 cities from the smart cities program – those with at least one million population (as reported in the 2011 Census). Here are some rough calculations for introducing and operating a continuous system for 10 years. Note that the costs are anecdotal, based on the discussions with suppliers and subject to change over time. These calculations are here to provide an idea of the likely required investment
  • Average cost of a continuous monitoring station (measuring all the criteria pollutants and meteorological parameters) is approximately 1 crore rupees, plus 10 percent by way of annual maintenance fee
  • A representative sample size per city is 30 stations; which puts the required number of stations at 1500 in the 50 cities (we can argue that a big city like Delhi can use +10 stations and a small city like Indore can use -10 stations)
  • This translates to a required investment of Rs 3,000 crore (including 10 percent annual maintenance fees for 10 years)
  • Cost of infrastructure, personnel and training could be an additional 100 percent (this is on the high side, given that the CPCB already operates some of the 573 manual stations across these cities with necessary infrastructure and personnel already in place)
  • Even if we assume a 50 percent hike in the prices and fees, this puts the tab at Rs 7,500 crore for ten years (1 crore = 10 million)
For 50 cities to be environmentally smart and report air pollution and its severity in real time, for ten years, this is not a big sum. The cost of the Delhi metro system is approximately 75,000 crores, which is currently supporting less than five percent of the travel demand in the city. There are similar metro systems, either planned or already under construction, in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and others. According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, in January 2015 alone, the total consumption of petroleum products in India was 13.9 million metric tonnes. Which means, an additional cess of 50 paise per kg of petroleum products sold, will translate to Rs 695 crore a month (or approximately 8,340 crores rupees per year) – enough to cover the estimated costs to operate a reliable and transparent air quality information management system in 50 cities for ten years.

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