National Media Briefing: Controlling Air Pollution – What Next?

The imperative of planning regionally

Friday, December 20, 2019 

It is no longer a story about Delhi and its neighbourhoods. Air pollution is now the story of the entire vast landlocked region of northern India, with most cities – big or small – under its choking haze. With the region covered in a blanket of smog, small urban specs of human settlements cannot remain insular. The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) has identified 122 cities that suffer from high particulate concentration in their air – most of these are small towns within a larger airshed. 

How will India tackle this problem which seems to be growing bigger and more devastating every year? Should we be focusing on developing regional plans and implementing them? How will we do that? Air pollution is a national health emergency. 1.2 million people die prematurely annually due to air pollution-related diseases in India. Under the National Clean Air Action Programme (NCAP), 122 cities have been designated as non-attainment cities that are implementing clean air action plans to meet the clean air target of 20-30 per cent reduction. But it is clear from the emerging science and satellite views that while local action has to gather momentum to reduce local toxic exposure and health risk in cities, regional-scale action is needed because air pollution moves across boundaries. 

But initiating action locally and regionally is not yet well understood by the concerned agencies and governments. Nor is there a coherent legal framework for integrated regional plan, action and compliance. India now needs such a new generation policy framework. Towards that goal, cities and regions need to draw lessons from ongoing action -- especially in Delhi and the National Capital Region, the first-ever regional block that is experimenting with an integrated plan. This has thrown up important lessons with regard to multi-sector action -- what has happened so far and what more needs to be done. 

CSE’s National Media Briefing brought together about 50 journalists from 9 states, with the aim of taking the conversation on air pollution to its next level. The speakers included Sunita Narain and Anumita Roychowdhury from CSE, and Gufran Beig, programme director, SAFAR, from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune. The Briefing informed about the science of regional pollution and forecasting, imperatives of local and regional pollution, and what it takes to move action.


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State wise actions for improving air quality
Briefing Note
Dirty air: What awaits the next decade?
Air pollution challenge in Delhi: Where we are today? What has been done to reduce toxic pollution? What is the future agenda
By: Sunita Narain, director general, CSE
Killer air Learning curve and roadmap for the coming decade
By: Anumita Roychowdhury
With Vivek Chattopadhyay, Avikal Somvanshi, Shambhavi Shukla, Swagata Dey, Shourabh Gupta, Anannya Das, Sayan Ray, Shantanu Gupta and Ritesh
How Science of Forecasting Shapes Action
By: Gufran Beig, Project Director-SAFAR Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune Ministry of Earth Sciences, Govt. of India
डाउन टू अर्थ : आवरण कथा
तीन मिनट, एक मौत
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