Further steps needed to reach more commuters
New Delhi, March 19, 2019 — Delhi Metro has always been at the forefront of the air pollution game by offering commuters a safe, clean and secure public transportation alternative by increasing their last mile connectivity with feeder buses. DMRC recently announced that the existing fleet would be replaces by low floor air conditioned electric buses. Further, to increase awareness about air quality, a number of AQI display boards have been installed on various metro stations over the past few years. The challenge is ensuring these boards are placed in optimal position and in commuters line of sight. Taking a closer look at this initiative, Delhi youth set out to check on these display boards.
A petition filed by Leading Purpose Campaigns under the Right To Information Act revealed there are 23 air quality display boards on the Violet Line (line 6) of the Delhi Metro. These boards display data disseminated by the Central Pollution Control Board. Help Delhi Breathe, a campaign by Purpose and its partner, Haiyya, a grassroots mobilisation organisation, seeks to raise awareness among students by educating them on how to read AQI boards, what the data on them mean, and the importance of air quality.
Armed with this information, a group of young volunteers decided to visit all the stations on the Violet line to check on Air Quality Index displays. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has done a commendable job in ensuring infrastructure to increase public awareness of air quality. However, there is a need to improve visibility of the displays and commuter appreciation.
Additionally, conversations with users discovered a lack of awareness of what the Air Quality Index is, let alone what the AQI board looks like. “While we were visiting different stations, we asked metro staff and passengers whether they had seen an AQI display board. Most of us them answered no and others asked us what an AQI Board is” Anshu Jha, a Haiyya volunteer reported.
The findings reported that there were in actuality over 25 display boards where AQI information was displayed, stations like Mohan Estate and Badarpur had more than one display boards. However, seven boards were out of order and 13 boards featured advertisements covering three-fourths of the screen. Central Secretariat station had better responses from commuters as it also had a health advisory displayed along with AQI levels.
A recent survey conducted by United Resident’s Joint Action (URJA), revealed that 93 percent of Delhi residents do not understand what Air Quality Index means.
The survey reinforced this data and concluded that to enable citizens to take the necessary action to protect themselves, issuing health advisories is a must, to make AQI levels comprehensible to commuters.
“IThe AQI boards at metro stations are a great initiative by the DMRC but we know through surveys and campaigns that people are not able to fully grasp what Air Quality Index and PM 2.5 levels means in the current format. We need health advisories to be included on all the digital boards. The idea is to help commuters comprehend the information, and to warn vulnerable groups to use protective measures.” Navdha Malhotra, Senior Campaigner, Help Delhi Breathe.
With the help of this new and active young generation, we hope to see further improvements to the DMRC AQI boards and in raising awareness about the issue. Building awareness is the first step in tackling the larger issue of air pollution in Delhi .” Alok Ranjan, Grassroots Campaigner, Haiyya.