Community Spotlight: Kolkata Clean Air

Kolkata Clean Air (KCA) is a citizen’s and community led initiative with a vision to make Kolkata one of the most livable and climate friendly cities in the world. KCA is an umbrella campaign under which we have multiple environmental NGOs, citizens and experts joining forces to make Kolkata’s air cleaner. A short Q&A with KCA’s Ajay Mittal:


How did the project first start? What was the motivation? 
This project started with few of us coming together alarmed by the situation of Delhi during last winter and how Kolkata in-spite of being worse than Delhi was not getting any attention. This campaign is entirely born out of our individual health concerns, concern for our families and the citizens on Kolkata. We have reached a point where there is a big question if Kolkata is a safe city to live in. This needs to change and Kolkata Clean Air is an effort in that direction to make Kolkata most climate friendly and livable city.
We hear you are conducting a perception survey in Kolkata. Can you tell us more about that? 
We have launched a missed Call Campaign (9289 220 740) where a missed call by any citizen is followed by an SMS with a link to a Clean Air Pledge that also includes one question on how the citizens perceive the issue of air pollution in Kolkata. Along with this, we have formulated a questionnaire to conduct a perception survey with the population that have higher exposure to pollution due to their occupation e.g., taxi drivers, auto drivers, hawkers, traffic constables etc.
What are some of the challenges related to air quality in Kolkata? 

The air quality in Kolkata is largely an invisible problem with an unfolding health crisis. The data that we have observed from different monitoring station and our own monitoring devices indicate very high levels of PM2.5 and PM10 particles in Kolkata and various reports form researchers on the health of the citizens suggest one of every two people in Kolkata is affected by air pollution while 70 per cent of those spending six hours or more outdoors have unusual lung function results. This data in itself indicates how severe the the problem in Kolkata.

Kolkata’s challenge has a lot to do with the very high vehicular density due to very low road space (less than 6%), especially diesel vehicles which are said to be most polluting. Kolkata has earned itself two very infamous tags of being the “diesel capital” and the “lung cancer” capital of India. Along with the vehicular emission there is a rise in construction activities all across the city which adds to the problem.

What comes next for the project? Are there any plans to expand to other cities in West Bengal?  
Currently the entire focus is to build more awareness, mobilize more citizens especially the youth and most importantly engage all  stakeholders in developing a sustainability plan for the city of Kolkata.  However, we do not want to restrict ourselves to just the Kolkata Municipal Area but work on the entire Kolkata metropolitan area (Greater Kolkata).
KCA recently organized a press conference on air pollution and health with a panel of doctors. You can read more about the press event here.

Find Kolkata Clean Air on Twitter or Facebook or visit their website.

You can also send them an e-mail.  

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