Rajasthan cities face rising particulate pollution, says new analysis by CSE

Enhanced multi-pollutant risk also there. Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur, Jodhpur and Alwar witnessing spike in particulate and NO2 pollution 

Urgent action with speed and scale needed across all sectors to meet the clean air targets  

  • Air quality monitoring has expanded in Rajasthan; allows better assessment of air quality trends in the state
  • Considerable reduction in pollution needed to meet the clean air standard for particulate pollution in all five non-attainment cities of Rajasthan
  • Particulate pollution on the rise in Jaipur, Kota and Udaipur
  • NO2 pollution on the rise in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur due to rapid motorisation
  • Ground-level ozone emerging as a toxic risk in non-attainment cities
  • Even smaller cities and towns showing high PM and NO2 pollution-- indicating air pollution is a state-wide challenge
  • Need urgent action across all sectors including industry, transport, waste management, construction, household fuels, dust management and greening.  

Access the detailed analysis click here

A Hindi version of this press release is also available click here

New Delhi, June 9, 2023: Cities of Rajasthan are experiencing rising particulate pollution;they are also witnessing a multi-pollutant crisis with levels of several gaseous pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ozone beginning to rise. This increases public health risk in the state. This has emerged from a new analysis carried out by New Delhi-based think tank Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) Urban Lab. The analysis has assessed the longer term trends as well as seasonal variations in particulate and gaseous pollution in the state. 

“Air quality is worsening not only in non-attainment cities but also in smaller cities and towns of Rajasthan despite the clean air action underway. Time-bound improvement in air quality requires state-wide action to improve systems and infrastructure in all the key sectors of pollution including industry, vehicles and transport, clean energy, management of waste streams, construction and greening.Allocate resources equitably for the priority measures in key sectors with a strong compliance framework to meet the clean air targets,” said AnumitaRoychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, CSE, while releasing the analysis here today. 

“Further expansion and strengthening of air quality monitoring will help to assess the growing risk better. The continuing elevated pollution levels among city stations highlight the systemic pollution that persists in the region due to inadequate infrastructure and systems for pollution control across all sectors. This can only be addressed through stringent and uniform action, round-the-year, to meet clean air standards,” says AvikalSomvanshi, senior programme manager, Urban Lab,CSE. 

Data used in the analysis: This analysis is of real-time data from monitoring stations in Rajasthan for the period January 1, 2019- May 31, 2023. This is an assessment of annual and seasonal trends in PM2.5, PM10, NO2, ground-level ozone and CO concentration for the period January 1, 2019-May 31, 2023. 

This analysis is based on the real time data available from the current working air quality monitoring stations in Rajasthan. A huge volume of data points have been cleaned and data gaps have been addressed based on USEPA method for this analysis. This analysis covers 42 continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations (CAAQMS) spread across cities of Rajasthan.  Jaipur (5), Jodhpur (5) and Kota (3) have more than one real-time station, therefore citywide average is used for comparative analysis and it is defined as average of all city stations. 

Key findings of the CSE analysis 

Substantial expansion of air quality monitoring infrastructure in the state has improved assessment of air quality trends: Efforts have been made to expand the air quality monitoring network in the cities of Rajasthan. There were 10 real-time and 39 manual stations operating in the state in 2022. In the first half of 2023, 32 new real-time and 18 new manual stations have become operational bringing the total to 99 stations. These stations are spread across 33 cities. Most of the stations -- 30 manual and 15 real-time -- are located in the five non-attainment cities of Alwar, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota and Udaipur. 

Many cities exceed the standards for particulate pollution: Both PM10 and PM2.5 are a challenge in the state. Jodhpur is the most polluted among the five non-attainment cities, with three-year average for PM2.5 of 71 microgramme per cubic metre (µg/m3) and for PM10 of 153 µg/m3. Kota is the second most polluted with a three-year average for PM2.5 of 55 µg/m3 and for PM10 of 105 µg/m3. Jaipur is a close third with a three-year average for PM2.5 of 52 µg/m3 and for PM10 of 114 µg/m3

Udaipur and Alwar also exceed the standard -- their three-year average for PM2.5 stands at 50 µg/m3 and 42 µg/m3, respectively. PM2.5 reduction targets vary between 4 per cent and 43 per cent for these non-attainment cities  Reduction targets for PM10 are much higher, ranging between 30 and 61 per cent. 

Particulate pollution is on the rise in Jaipur, Kota and Udaipur -- the 2022 average levels have crossed the pre-pandemic levels: Both PM2.5 and PM10 levels are worsening in Jaipur, Kota and Udaipur. PM2.5 level in 2022 has been 14-18 per cent higher than the level recorded in 2019 among these three cities. Similarly, PM10 level in 2022 has been 11-16 per cent higher than 2019 PM10 levels. Alwar shows a stable trend with both PM2.5 and PM10 registering minimal change over the last four years. Jodhpur shows an improving trend with both PM2.5 and PM10 down 17 per cent and 9 per cent respectively from 2019 level. 

NO2 pollution is on the rise in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur -- 2022 levels have crossed the pre-pandemic level: Even though the NO2 levels are lower than the national ambient air quality standards in cities of Rajasthan, the cities are witnessing a rising trend. NO2 levels are worsening in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. The level has been 24-51 per cent higher than what was recorded in 2019 in these three cities. It has been exceptionally challenging in Jaipur in 2022 when the NO2 level breeched the annual standard. Alwar and Kota show a stable trend.This pollutant requires early and preventive action as growing motorisation can skew the curve. 

NO2 pollution is closely linked with traffic flow: Diurnal tides of NO2 concentration in all the non-attainment cities follow the traffic flow pattern with peak concentrations aligning with traffic rush hours. There are two peaks in NO2 concentrations during a typical day: the first happens between 7am and 9am and the second between 7pm and 9pm. The evening peak is higher in Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota and Udaipur, while the morning peak is higher in Alwar. This indicates the impact of motorisation. 

Ground-level ozone is emerging as a challengein non-attainment cities,needs more robust monitoring toassess the risk: Ground-level ozone,which ishighly toxic andcan harm even during short duration exposure, requires monitoring to assess its build-up in local situations across the landscape. As of 2022, only one monitoring station each existed in Alwar, Jodhpur, Kota and Udaipur and three in Jaipur. On several days in a year,ground-level ozone has started to exceed the 8-hour average standard for ozone in all the non-attainment cities, with Jaipur being the most affected. It may be noted that ozone is not directly emitted by any source. A range of gases including NO2, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and others that are emitted from vehicles and industries react with each other in the air under the influence of sunlight to form ozone. This is a highly reactive gas and extremely harmful for those suffering from asthma and respiratory conditions. To control it, all other gases will have to be controlled. 

Carbon monoxide pollution is also a concern in the non-attainment cities:Carbon monoxide (CO)is a very toxic gas and is emitted almost entirely by vehicles especially petrol vehicles.There was only one monitoring station each in Alwar, Jodhpur, Kota and Udaipur and three in Jaipur till 2022. Instances of exceedance in CO have been more frequent, with Jaipur being the worst affected. 

Pollution during winter season is a challenge in all non-attainment cities;summer is not clean either in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota: Poor air quality days start in a synchronised pattern across the non-attainment cities of Rajasthan during the month of November. The intensity of pollution is higher in Jaipur and Kota. The air quality in Alwar and Udaipur improves from poor to moderate categories in spring but in Jaipur, Jodhpur and Kota it continues to remain bad through the summer. Monsoon is the only period when air quality turns good among the non-attainment cities. 

Smaller cities and townsare showing high PM and NO2 pollution as well: 24 smaller cities and towns of Rajasthan have started to monitor their air quality for the first time earlier in the year. Analysis of their data from the summer reveals that several of them can have seasonal levels even higher than the than non-attainment cities. During this summer season (March-May), Jodhpur had the worst PM10 level, Kota had the worst PM2.5 level and Alwar had the worst NO2 level among nonattainment cities. 

During the same period, Sri Ganganagar recorded PM2.5 level of 64 µg/m3 and PM10 level of 258 µg/m3, which is almost twice that of the worst performing non-attainment cities. Hanumangarh, Bhiwadi, Chittorgarh, Bharatpur and Dholpur also had higher PM2.5 levels than all the non-attainment cities. NO2 levels were also high in several small cities with Sri Ganganagar, Bhiwadi and Dausa being the worst performers. These cities and towns will require a careful assessment of annual trends in the future. 

Summer of 2023 has witnessed ground-level ozone and CO exceedances in non-attainment and smaller towns -- smaller towns more affected: This summer season (March-May 2023) Jodhpur has been the most affected by gaseous pollutants among non-attainment cities, with 28 exceedance days for ground-level ozone and seven for CO. Kota has been the second worst hit with 19 exceedance days for ground-level ozone and 16 for CO. 

Smaller cities and towns have fared much worse than the non-attainment cities. Jhunjhunu registered 84 exceedance days for ground-level ozone, the worst in the state. Banswara, Chittorgarh, Churu and Barmer registered more than 50 exceedance days for ground-level ozone. Dausa has been worst affected by CO pollution with 64 exceedance days. 

Multi-pollutant crisis in Rajasthan: Spatial analysis of various pollutant concentrations across the landscape in the state shows that distribution of ground-level ozone is inverse of NO2, CO and PM. Northern parts of the state are most affected by PM and NO2 pollution, while the southern and western parts are hotspots for ground-level ozone. 

Ground-level ozone and CO exceedance hotspots are mutually exclusive: Given the unique chemisty of ground-level ozone and CO, it is nearly imposible for the concentration of both gases to buildup at the same location at the same time. This is evident in the spatial distribution of the hotspots of the two gases. This also shows that no part of the state is free of gasous pollution -- if not ground-level ozone, then CO levels are high. 

Pollution hotspots within Jaipur:Mansarovar is a hotspot for PM10 and ground-level ozone pollution in the city. PM2.5 pollution is worst in Police Commissionerate,while NO2 is prevalent in Adarsh Nagar. Police Commissionerate also reported the most CO exceedances this summer. 

Pollution hotspots within Jodhpur: Jhalamand is a hotspot for PM10 in Jodhpur, while Collectorate is for PM2.5, NO2 and CO pollutions. Samrat Ashok Udhyan reported the most ground-level ozone exceedances this summer. 

Pollution hotspots within Kota: Dhanmandi is the hotspot for PM10 and NO2 in Kota. ShrinathPuram is where PM2.5 is most prevalent, while Nayapurahas reported the most ground-level ozone and CO exceedances this summer. 

The way forward

While particulate pollution – both PM10 and PM2.5 – is on the rise in the non-attainment cities, gaseous pollutants including NO2, ozone and CO are also beginning to record a rising trend. Says Roychowdhury: “This can lead to a multi-pollutant crisis in the state. This requires widespread aggressive measures to reduce particulate pollution, but also early preventive action to control gaseous emissions from the sources.” 

Adds Somvanshi: “It is necessary to scale up with speed the implementation of the multi-sector clean air action plan at the city and the state levels. The implementation of clean air action plans for the non-attainment cities as well as state clean air action plan are already underway. This will require further enhancement to strengthen the sectoral strategies to meet the sectoral targets.

  • Plan for massive clean energy transition in industry, transport, power plants, and households.
  • Initiate state-wide action to scale up electrification of vehicles, and promote usage of public transport, walking and cycling.
  • Work towards developing a circular economy across the state to collect segregated waste, recover material from all streams of waste for recycling, and remediation of legacy waste to eliminate burning of waste and dust particles. 

For more details, interviews etc, please contact: Sukanya Nair, sukanya.nair@cseindia.org, 8816818864