Policy Dialogue on Air Pollution

On the occasion of the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies (7 September 2020), CSIR-National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (CSIR-NISTADS), New Delhi, organised a Collective Intelligence Policy Session in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India and Clean Air Asia. The session comprised a “Policy Dialogue on Air Pollution and Implementation Strategies for National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)” to discuss opportunities, challenges, formal and informal innovation and technology interventions to address challenges of air pollution. 

Guest of Honour Shri Ravi S. Prasad, IAS, Additional Secretary to Government of India, MoEFCC emphasised that “Addressing the issue of air pollution is of the highest priority. Government of India is committed to tackling it through initiatives like the National Clean Air Programme using technology solutions. We aim to reduce 20-30% of Particulate Matter in the next few years.” 

Earlier, Prof. Ranjana Aggarwal, Director, CSIR-National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (CSIR-NISTADS), while delivering the welcome address, highlighted the activities conducted in CSIR-NISTADS for developing mitigation measures for air pollution like sequestration of carbon dioxide by planting Vetiver in specified regions of Delhi, mobile air quality monitoring systems, etc. She also highlighted the need for such a dialogue series that enables various stakeholders to share their ideas and suggestions. She stated, “Clean air is important for health, economy and growth. This session will discuss the use of a science-based solution to understand the innovation landscape of air pollution and create an actionable plan for the National Clean Air Programme.”

Dr Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board, New Delhi discussed the various government initiatives and collective efforts that could lead to good air quality in targeted regions. He stated, “Air pollution is a complex problem. However, better fuel quality, regular monitoring of emissions, public transport, E-mobility, waste management, public participation and enforcement on the ground can help create clean air for all.”

Dr Preeti Soni, Chief, Climate Change, Resilience and Energy, United Nations Development Programme, India said “Over the last few months, we have seen that blue skies are achievable. UNDP will support the National Clean Air Programme through strengthening action plans, demonstrating innovative solutions, facilitating national & south-south cooperation and knowledge sharing.”

Ms Prarthana Borah, India Director, Clean Air Asia, suggested that “Alignment with Climate Actions, Clean Development and Sustainable Development Goals requires partnerships with research organizations for implementing technologies on ground.”

Padmabhushan Vaid Devinder Triguna, President, Rashtriya Ayurveda Vidyapeeth, Ministry of Ayush recommended that “Native trees that exhibit high air pollution tolerance index and greater particulate matter absorbing potential like Neem (Azadirachta indica), Gulmohar (Delonix regia), guava (Psidium guajava), Redwood (Caesalpinia sappan), Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo), Shirish (Albizia lebbeck), etc. should be planted in large numbers."

Ms Swetha Kolluri, Head, Experimentation, Accelerator Lab, UNDP India shared her idea about focusing on advancement for achieving multiple SDGs by integrating labour welfare, economic and public health required along with the attainment of desired air quality levels for tackling the air pollution conditions.

Clean Air Asia’s ‘Nature Hack for Clean Air’ winners Mr Shivam Bachhety (Project - Air Ninja) and Ms Rajhrita Dutta (Project  - Air Map) shared their technological interventions developed to monitor, analyse and predict air quality for the regions of interest.

Prof. Sujit Bhattacharya, Chief Scientist, CSIR-NISTADS said that “National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) has opened up opportunities to have activities that provide incentives and support to new clean technologies acting as a robust platform for bringing innovation at various stages to be identified and supported for further advancement.”

Dr Sumit Kumar Mishra, Principal Scientist, CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL), New Delhi, highlighted the importance of precision in the measurement of pollutants, standardization, sensitization and common protocol formation.

Dr Krishnan Srinivasaraghavan, Head of Exploration, Accelerator Lab, UNDP elaborated the need for uplifting Grassroot innovations by collaborating organizations essential to address many of the gaps and finding technological advancement possible for the Indian Context.

Ms Prarthana Borah, India Director, Clean Air Asia, announced the winners of the Clear Blue Sky pledge contest organised online on this occasion. About 64 responses were received. The winner was Pratik Parmar, CEPT University; first runner-up Keshav Das, UNIDO and second runner-up Prakash Jha, CII Foundation.

Dr Madhulika Bhati concluded the session by delivering a vote of thanks to all the dignitaries for actively participating in the Policy Dialogue on Air Pollution and discussing implementation strategies for the National Clean Air Programme. She commented that the Policy Dialogue on air pollution has successfully highlighted the multiple dimensions of the participating institutes, organizations, technology interventions, mitigation measures, etc. and also helped identify the prospects that need to be worked upon in upcoming times which can be considered for policy recommendations. 


Key Recommendations

•    A collaborative partnership between organization and institutes for developing technological innovation and policy implementation.
•    Afforestation of regions should be done based on suitable native tree species that support particulate matter absorption.
•    Measurement of pollutants, standardization, sensitization and common protocol formation needs to be devised.
•    Uplifting of the Grassroot Innovations and Technological Interventions required.
•    Integration of technological advancement with evidence-based research and implementation involving community participation.
•    CSIR-NISTADS should develop a partnership to devise a policy to regulate air quality as per the defined standards.