Understanding India's Fight for Clean Air

New Delhi and 21 other cities in India feature on a list of the world's 30 most polluted cities. Exposure to air pollution poses a serious health burden in India. Available health impact assessments suggest that several hundred thousand cases of premature deaths annually are attributable to pollution. There are numerous direct and indirect effects of air pollution on the ecosystem, which in turn, also have various economic implications.

The importance of curbing air pollution activities cannot be stressed enough, especially in the context of India outlining its economic road map, which aims to achieve the $ 5 trillion- economy mark by 2025. Creation of environmental policies, which will favour the economy is critical as they will propel more efficient use of resources, resulting in overall health benefits and ensure employment generation in upcoming sectors such as renewable energy and electric vehicles (EVs).

Alongside pushing for sectors using clean and green energy and formulation of strategic action plan at the national level, there is a dire need to better strategize current policy formulation and ensure its on ground, end-to-end implementation in a sustainable manner. However, for making any informed decisions on mitigation and control of air pollution on the policy action front, there is a need for a thorough understanding of the sources of air pollution. Air quality management measures, both short- and long-term, shall inevitably require an understanding of pollution sources and of the temporal and spatial distribution of pollutants.

The report tries to strike at the very root of the problems causing air pollution by delving into source tracing mainly from:

  1. Construction dust causing air pollution
  2. Thermal power plants causing air pollution
  3. Air pollution due to Crop Burning

It deep dives into each of these above listed sources of air pollution, demonstrates the related causes and effects and successfully illustrates the impacts of different energy and air quality policy interventions. Under each section, the report also lists out international best practices that are followed alongside undertaking diagnosis and gap analysis in the international and regulatory framework.

A special emphasis has been given to use of mulching for controlling the dust that arises due to construction. Since India is at a nascent stage as far as usage of this technique is concerned, much has been highlighted to understand the materials used for mulching and ways to procure the material giving much fillip to the rising mulching industry in India.

The report also highlights several concerted measures that have been initiated by line ministries to deal with the current extreme air pollution episode in India which involves the transport, power and agricultural sectors, household energy, industry as well as waste management practices.

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