Scientists urge India to implement plan to address pollution as New Delhi chokes

New report outlines ten solutions for Indian cities

Scientists and air pollution experts are calling for Indian government officials to back a ten-point plan to improve air quality following a severe episode at the beginning of November when New Delhi was blanketed under an unprecedented cloud of choking smog.

There was a state of health emergency in Delhi on Sunday 6th November as toxic pollutants reached severe levels.  This whole week fine particulate levels continued to be well above Indian government standards with air quality defined as “poor” or “very poor”.

The new report, ‘Breathing Cleaner Air’, by a task force of eminent Indian and international experts, outlines solutions that can significantly reduce air pollution, including critical near-term measures such as:

  • Prevent agricultural burning by turning crop residue into fuel for electricity generation;
  • Provide cleaner fuels (LPG, Electricity) and biomass stoves with an efficiency of 50% or more and with a forced draft fan to those who cannot afford LPG.
  • Switch to low sulphur fuel, implement Euro VI equivalent  standards for engine emissions;  shift freight transport from road to lower-emission modes rail and shipping modes;
  • Introduce a new street cleaning program to limit emissions from road dust.

 

The report also recommended for creation of a new National Clean Air Mission for implementing policies for air pollution mitigation across several central Ministries, as well as across city and state jurisdictions. In line with this, the judiciary in India has already ordered that a committee be formed with representation from central and state governments to coordinate across different administrative jurisdictions to prevent life-threatening pollution in the Delhi National Capital Region.

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