I listened to the Filter Koffee Podcast episode with Karthik Ganesan on my morning commute to work. I found the Peak Planet podcast on the IVM podcast network as a result. Contrary to Karthik Nagarajan’s usual episode, this felt all over the place. Rich in data but played out in starts and stops.
The notes here are from the Episode 2 of the Peak Planet podcast on data and a few notes from Episode 3. I binge-listened to all the episodes of the podcast after listening to the morning episode on The Filter Koffee Podcast. The podcast seems to have hit pause after 4 episodes that were out in November, 2019.
The first episode of the podcast introduced me to the Hinjewadi IT Park Residents Welfare Association (HIRWA). I loved their Twitter handle – HIRWA Hinjewadi. HIRWA in Marathi is Green and is usually associated with pollution-free advertisements along the lines of “Clean Mumbai, Green Mumbai” etc. So, this reads as “Green Hinjewadi” if you partly translate it.
The second episode is about data. Karthik G quotes Michael Bloomberg in the beginning, “In God we trust, everyone else please bring data.” The global standard in Air Quality Index measurements is to have 1 AQI reference monitor for every 1 million people. India has 1 per 7 million. And, most of these are concentrated in Delhi.
It is believed that air pollution is an urban phenomenon and this is not true. Sagnik Dey working out of IIT-Delhi says that we have no data on the background pollution level in India. Background pollution level is the pollution that exists because of natural causes like dust, etc. India makes up for some of the lack of ground-level pollution monitoring by watching things from space. Satellite based data monitoring has been around for the past twenty years. Dey believes that this data must be used to deploy ground-based costlier reference monitor stations across India.
They further talk to Rohit Bansal of Purelogic Labs. They have a website called AQI.in which tries to provide low cost sensors. Sensors have become really good and really cheap in the last three years. So much so, that their quality is slowly moving towards the levels of reference monitors. Where, reference monitors cost in the range of $15,000-$20,000, low cost sensors are available for $20-$40 range. There are efforts to make these sensors as good as the reference monitors. Bansal says that the quality of reference monitors also needs improvement.
The third episode is about governance. They talk about the umbrella Environmental Protection Act, 1986. These provide standards, emission standards and working of the Pollution Control Boards. They talk about India moving from BS IV directly to BS VI, about how PCBs can issue notices but can’t collect the charges levied on them. I didn’t grok this episode because it slipped on the side of law and governance.