Air quality (AQ) is an issue that has been given more and more attention in India – often (and lately) through media reporting and to some extent with a focus on the main cities where air pollution has been worsening. According to WHO India has 13 of the world’s top 25 most-polluted cities and the reasons for the worsening air quality are multiple and diverse but grouped around the ‘usual suspects’; often mobile sources (such as transport), area sources (waste burning, cook stoves, suspended dust of construction and industrial activity) and stationary sources such as power plants, industries and diesel generators.
‘Urban India’ is emergent rapidly and often the infrastructure is lacking behind the urban growth. Growing cities, with lacking or poor public transport and mobility infrastructure have led to an increase in sales of private vehicles. As an example, Delhi has about 7.5 million vehicles and almost 1,400 vehicles are added every day and loses about 80 lives every day to air pollution.
As mentioned above, a number of sources and issues contribute to the worsening air quality and most Indian cities are above the acceptable levels of PM10 and PM2.5. The health consequences due to exposure to poor air quality are alarming. Outdoor air pollution has become the fifth largest killer in India after high blood pressure, indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking, and poor nutrition with 627,000 premature deaths from air pollution-related diseases and 17.7 million healthy years of life lost (2010).
Our Strategy in India
The overall objective of Clean Air Asia’s work in India is to improve air quality and contribute to more livable and healthy cities. The focus will be on cities with high impact potential as well as potential for leveraging wider change. As we expand our work in India over the next 2-3 years we will:
- Be working with cities to implement concrete actions for measurable change
- Promote national and regional collaboration and learning to implement best practices and drive innovation
- Mobilize for change by communicating to and raise awareness of the public and key stakeholders including non-environment NGOs in relation to air quality.
About the Clean Air Asia India Office
Clean Air Asia India accomplishes a unique role in India with respect to reducing air pollution as the trusted change maker with a focus on cities and the air quality agenda using science, knowledge, advocacy and partnerships to further or work. Our work is based on our ethos partnerships, collaboration and cooperation as key drivers for meaningful and lasting change with an emphasis on building local capacity.
Our past work have been on green freight and sustainable mobility, bringing projects in such as the Walkability Study in Indian cities, the Walkability App, the National Bus Fuel Efficiency Framework, Green Trucks Toolkit for India and its case study, online freight brokerage platform etc. Moving forward, our India Office will be engaging cities, the media and key stakeholders including non-environment NGOs in air quality work. Initially set up in 2008 as a liaison office, Clean Air Asia India is now a branch office, approved by the Reserve Bank of India.
The India office is the secretariat of Clean Air Asia’s Country Network in India which is part of the Clean Air Asia Partnership. Cities, national government agencies, academic institutions, non-government organizations, private sector companies, and development agencies can apply for free membership to the Clean Air Asia Partnership. The application form can be downloaded here.
Developing a Clean Air Action Plan for Aurangabad
Clean Air Asia, in partnership with local city stakeholders, is developing Clean Air Action Plans for 30 cities in India. Clean Air Asia began its work with Aurangabad, Maharashtra, as a pilot, with the process involving building city profiles with the application of the Clean Air Scorecard tool. Clean Air Asia also organized a state-level stakeholder consultation in partnership with the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board and Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar from Marathwada University. Clean Air Asia is now preparing a detailed report on the status of air quality management in the city.
In an effort to promote non-motorized transport in the city, Clean Air Asia also organized a Clean Air Bike Ride for Aurangabad City. The 20km ride, with more than 50 biking enthusiasts, was organized in collaboration with Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, and the Government Cancer Hospital in Aurangabad. The objective of the event was to raise awareness about sustainable and low-emission modes of transport, particularly in Tier 2 cities like Aurangabad.
Taking the air quality conversation to Delhi’s schools
Clean Air Asia, in collaboration with the US Embassy in India, has begun the vital task of talking about air quality issues. The pilot project is being implemented in three schools in New Delhi under the banner of the “Train for Clean Air: Clean Air for Kids” project. The Clean Air Asia team tailored a bilingual (English and Hindi) program in three schools – Bhartiya Vidya Bhawan, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Mansarovar Garden and Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Vasant Vihar – in different Delhi locations. School students were engaged in interactive classroom activities on air quality, a walkability survey and an air-sensing activity in the school neighborhood. Coming from different socio-economic backgrounds and neighborhoods, the students of all three schools (aged from 12-14) have been assigned air quality projects which will be presented to government officials and policy bodies in February 2017.
Engaging youth in technology solutions to improve air quality
Clean Air Asia created a unique platform for young technology enthusiasts to contribute to the discussion on air quality in India with the Code for Clean Air Hackathon. Eight teams from the best technology colleges in India (including IIT-Delhi, DTU and NSIT) participated in the hackathon and coded an air quality concept app. The best app ideas will now be combined to create the Clean Air Asia India app. Conducted over a weekend at the American Center in New Delhi, the hackathon included a detailed orientation on the history of air quality monitoring in India, emerging trends, challenges, and existing air quality apps. Following the orientation, the teams coded their apps and ideas with guidance from Clean Air Asia experts. The selection of the best app was a competitive process judged by a jury that included senior officials from CPCB, the Delhi government and interactive design/entrepreneurship experts.
Launch of the Youth Clean Air Network for innovative air quality ideas and solutions
Recognizing the need to involve youth in the air quality discourse, Clean Air Asia launched the Youth Clean Air Network (YCan) in December, and it already has 30 members. It is envisaged as an Asian network that will take part in key activities such as perception surveys, solution-based action projects and air quality campaigns. YCan membership is open to youth aged from 13 to 35 who are passionate about working towards better air quality.
Using street play to raise awareness about a cracker-free Diwali
In the week preceding Diwali in October, Clean Air Asia partnered with WWF-India to create a street play, or nukkad natak, which was performed in six different locations of Delhi to reach diverse audiences. Titled “Saans-e-Dilli”, or “The Breath of Delhi”, the nukkad natak presented a futuristic picture of a deserted Delhi on Diwali day because of the city’s polluted air.
Clean Air Asia at the Delhi Open AQ Workshop
Delhi’s first Open AQ workshop took place on November 25-26, bringing together air quality civil society organizations, data enthusiasts, sensor and mask makers, and campaigners to discuss problems and solutions involving air quality data and policy in India. In the words of Clean Air Asia India office Communications Officer Bani Bains, “Once you have the data, how do you humanize it?”
US-India Air Quality Workshop in Delhi and Mumbai
Advancing the discussion on clean fuels and transport for air quality in India, Clean Air Asia worked closely with the US India Business Council to develop content for and organize two air quality workshops in New Delhi and Mumbai. Clean Air Asia’s India Director Prarthana Borah spoke at the US India Air Quality Workshop on December 13 in New Delhi. Her talk was crucial in setting the tone of the workshop, focusing on global air quality, reasons and mitigation tools, COP21 and greenhouse gas emissions. Organized by the US-India Business Council with Clean Air Asia India as a partner, the workshop was also conducted in Mumbai on December 16, where Clean Air Asia Air Quality Specialist Dr Geetanjali Kaushik was part of a panel on the impact of biofuels on air quality and respiratory health.
NEERI invites Clean Air Asia to begin dialogue on the Clean Air Action Plan with Nagpur
Following the successful launch of the Clean Air Action Plan in Aurangabad, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) invited Clean Air Asia to initiate the same in Nagpur. Clean Air Asia Air Quality Specialist Dr Geetanjali Kaushik presented the application of the Clean Air Scorecard tool (CAST) to Aurangabad city at an Urban Air Pollution Chemistry symposium organized by the Royal Society of Chemistry and NEERI in Nagpur. An abstract of the CAST presentation was also published in the symposium proceedings.
Media engagement on air quality reporting
In the effort to make air quality more inclusive, widely discussed and well reported, Clean Air Asia engaged in media trainings on air quality throughout 2016. Clean Air Asia’s India Director Prarthana Borah and Communications Officer Bani Bains spoke to an audience of journalists from all over India on China’s “Cleaning the Air” experience and the communications challenges related to air quality in India. Titled “Beyond Odd/Even”, the media workshop on air pollution was organized by the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment and held at WWF-India in New Delhi. Around the same time, Clean Air Asia Air Quality Specialist Dr Geetanjali Kaushik attended a “Lifting the Smog” media workshop in Varanasi organized by the Centre for Environment and Energy Development, India Spend and Care4Air that brought together experts on air pollution mitigation and health, professors and government officials.
Clean Air Asia’s India Office in the news:
Clean Air Asia India Office:
Address: Basement C-3, Green Park Extension, New Delhi, 110016, India
Tel: + 91 11 6545 1100
Fax: +91 11 4385 0032
Prarthana Borah – India Director – email@example.com
Geetanjali Kaushik – Air Quality Specialist – firstname.lastname@example.org
Bani Bains – Communications Officer – email@example.com
Geeta Choudhary – Finance and Administration Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Naveen Sharma – Finance and Administration Assistant – email@example.com