Clean Air Asia launches Clean Air Knowledge Network in India

Clean Air Asia’s recently launched Clean Air Knowledge Network (CAKN) serves as a knowledge hub for research and technical assistance for air quality stakeholders throughout India.

The CAKN connects air quality experts and practitioners and promotes best practices from different regions, and in so doing supports policymakers and other stakeholders in air quality management.

The CAKN is aligned with the six components of Clean Air Asia’s Guidance Framework for Better Air Quality in Asian Cities: Ambient air quality standards and monitoring; emissions inventories and modeling; health and other impacts; air-quality communication; clean air action plans; and governance.

The first city members’ CAKN workshop was held on June 28 in Delhi with representatives from government, civil society, academia, the medical community, and the private sector from Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Kurukshetra, Amritsar, New Delhi, Kanpur, Nagpur, New Delhi, Guwahati, Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; Earth Sciences; and Sciences and Technology sent a message to workshop participants in support of the CAKN, and aired concerns about the growing global problem of air pollution.

Through two high-level panels and group work, the workshop identified the key air quality challenges in India and paved the way forward for the CAKN to build sustainable partnerships and support air quality management and policies.

The issue we need to discuss is whether the transition to e-vehicles, the use of big data and better ICT modules, and waterways transport can prove to be game-changers

The first panel highlighted the key air quality management challenges in India. Moderated by Professor Jagan Shah, Director of the National Institute of Urban Affairs and Clean Air Asia Board of Trustees member, panelists included Dr Gufran Beig, SAFAR (IITM) Project Director, Rashmi Urdhwareshe, ARAI Director, Dr Damodar Bachani, Deputy Commissioner of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Professor Mukesh Sharma from IIT Kanpur, and Dr J.S. Kamyotra, Head of the ETU Section at the Central Pollution Control Board.

The panel advised city members to focus on the development of micro-level, city-based action plans, to collaborate on air quality, to bridge any gaps in research, and to be realistic about the time frame.

Prof Shah promoted a solutions-based approach: “The issue we need to discuss is whether the urban transport transition to e-vehicles, the use of big data and better ICT modules, and waterways transport can prove to be game-changers.”

The second panel focused on air quality and such cross-cutting issues as community health, industry, environmental education and micro-level action in Tier 2 cities.

Moderated by Clean Air Asia India Director Prarthana Borah, panelists included Senior Pediatric Surgeon Dr Sanjay Kulshreshtha, Nisshant Kaalra, Head of the Department of Technical Affairs at Toyota Kirsloskar Motors in Gurgaon, Dr Satish Patil, Director of the BCUD, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar from Marathwada University (BAMU) in Aurangabad, and Dr Ram Boojh, Senior Programme Officer at UNESCO in New Delhi.

The panel explored the role of the CAKN in each of their specific areas, determining the key modalities of the network in health-related research, bringing together experts from different sectors, and supporting an integrated approach to air quality.

Through the group work, participants were able to identify different ways in which the CAKN could be developed, including continued engagement on air quality monitoring issues, emissions inventories, health, communications and governance.