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India Approves AI/ML Projects for Air Pollution Control

The Commission for Air Quality Management CAQM in the national capital region (NCR) and adjoining areas has reached out to technical/academic researchers to jointly work to prevent, control, and abate air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The Commission has approved seven proposals, after a detailed technical and financial evaluation and appraisal. The first project by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) in Nagpur will use an artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) tool for vehicle counting by uploading CCTV footage on a cloud platform. According to a government report, this will help in preparing the air pollution emission inventory with the help of a vehicle count for urban centres. The different ranges of traffic density will be used to train an AI tool for vehicle counting. CCTV footage from 24 hours of different road sections will be uploaded to train the tool.

The second project is by CSIR-NEERI in Delhi and the CSIR-Central Road Research Institute (CRRI). It aims to improve the air quality in the capital by addressing vehicular-induced road dust with scientific and technological-based action plans, the report informed.

The Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in Punjab will develop an AI-based technique for flying drones in a specified trajectory with minimal human intervention for real-time air quality monitoring specifically for the pollutants sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 and PM 10). The project will provide information on pollutant concentration and the on-ground, spatial, temporal, altitudinal, and seasonal variations of pollutant concentration in particular areas in Delhi NCR. This will help in generating accurate predictions of air quality scenarios, which will optimise control strategies.

Projects have also been proposed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune; SASTRA University in Thanjavur; the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi (IIT-Delhi); and the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) in Pune.

The projects are aimed at developing better capabilities for air quality monitoring and demonstrating field-implementable solutions and technologies. Specific time limits and budgetary allocations have been set for each project.

Air pollution in India is a serious issue with the major sources being fuelwood and biomass burning, fuel adulteration, vehicle emission and traffic congestion. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has launched several programmes over the years to fight air pollution.

For instance, DST and CSIR-NEERI developed Wind Augmentation and Air Purifying Unit (WAYU) devices to be placed in industrial and residential complexes and schools in the vicinity of traffic road intersections/dividers. It can reduce PM 10, PM 2.5, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and hydrocarbon emitted into the atmosphere. This device works on two principles mainly wind generation for the dilution of air pollutants and active pollutants removal. The device consumes a half unit of electricity each day for running for ten hours each day. The cost of the device is US $741 per device and the maintenance cost is about US$19 per month.

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