Every day, each of us breathes in about 15,000 litres of air. Air which provides us the essential oxygen has dangerous levels of pollutants that constitute a serious danger to our health. These pollutants and resulting poor air quality has negative effects on our health, our environment and our economy. Therefore, reduction in air pollution is critical for general health, climate protection, long term growth and wellbeing, all of which lead to a better quality of life.
Rapidly expanding urban areas in India, like the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR), are on the front lines of the fight against air pollution and climate change. City level management of air pollution and emissions are complex tasks that require long-term commitment and actions from multiple stakeholders across the industry, government and residents. Numerous schemes and measures have been instituted but with limited impact and acceptance. There is a need for comprehensive action that breaks across sectors, entities and organisations to develop and execute solutions both for the improvement and sustainability of air quality.
The CII – Niti Aayog Cleaner Air Better Life initiative was formally launched in November 2016 to address the concerns of air pollution in cities which have reached the crisis levels. Air pollution in urban India is a national emergency which requires ruthless actions in coming years over a sustained period of time.
The initiative aims to bring together diverse stakeholders together in consultative process to find workable solution to air-pollution. Its recommendations are Science and data driven, and balance the environmental, social and economic needs of India.
During the first meeting of this initiative, held on 5 June 2017, Niti Aayog constituted four different task forces involving policy practitioners and researchers, civil society, industry or solution providers and academia, to design workable action plan for combating air pollution in Delhi NCR. These task forces have focussed on Biomass Management, Clean Transportation, Clean Fuel and Clean Industry.
Solutions are already existing but scaling of these solutions requires corrective policy actions by government and innovation in adoption of sustainable business model and new market mechanisms. The initiative aims to promote innovative business models which bring about the improvement in the air quality and advocate coordinated policy actions following the principle of air-shed management to enable implementation on the ground.
Working on the key issue of farm waste burning in nearby states of Punjab and Haryana, the task force on Biomass Management has undertaken several national and regional level consultations. It has come up with policy and fiscal recommendations to promote workable solutions and policy actions required by the government. The action has already been initiated by Government of India (Niti Aayog and concerned line ministries) based the recommendations from initiative on biomass management in North and North-western states of India.
Also, improving access to cleaner and efficient modes of urban mobility, promoting cleaner fuels in cities, clean industry are other crucial areas in which consultation and policy research is ongoing under the initiative.