Year in review: 2018

Part I

2018 is almost over, so we got in touch with a few people in the field and asked three questions. This three-part series presents the views of stakeholders in the air pollution field in India, including scientists, community groups, media and others. Read their comments below (and on @airqualityindia) and join the conversation.

Question 1:

“The collective efforts of over 80 organisations in the Clean Air Collective have started to pay off. That support has given the citizen’s movement #MyRightToBreathe a strong voice in media and amongst the political class.”

Ravina Raj Kohli, #MyRightToBreathe (@ravinarajkohli)

“Public perception and media coverage. This is probably the most if we look at the google trends.”

Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, UrbanEmissions (@UrbanEmissions)

“NCAP! with the national government finally starting to act and as a consequence state governments being forced to act. The ecosystem of actors invariably have more things on the table to work with.”

Ankit Bhargava, Sensing Local (@sensinglocal)

“NGT order forcing cities to develop a clean air plan & pushing each one to create one.”

Yogesh Ranganathan, CAP-B

“Media awareness and coverage through the year. There is no way we beat this without high levels of literacy, and engagement from the public.”

Dr. Santosh Harish, CPR (@santoshharish1)

a. The severity & scale of the air pollution problem has now been understood at a much deeper level. The fact that this is not just a Delhi problem and the ground level validated PM2.5 data that is emerging, shows that there are cities which are more severely affected than Delhi has been a major development.

b. At an individual level, a thorough understanding of the precision and accuracy of the PM2.5 sensors has been another major development for us. We now have a much clearer empirical understanding, using ground level field data, of the percentage error of the real-time sensor and also how to bring down the mean absolute percentage error of the sensors down to half. 

Ronak Sutaria, UrbanSciences (@rsutaria)

“Couple of things stand out. However, the single biggest one is the draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) even though the final version has remained a mirage for most of the year. At least the government is seeing the big picture even though by missing several deadlines it does seem commitment-phobic to India’s air pollution crisis. A couple of other significant developments in this field are the rapid spread of low-cost, online monitoring networks like Urban Sciences and which are filling in the vast gaps of the government’s network. Another would be the much greater role of social media, citizen groups and Press reportage (I see it first-hand at my TV news network) although I have no metric to go by, it’s an assessment based on following this field very closely from a professional and personal point of view. 

Chetan Bhattacharji, NDTV (@CBhattacharji)

“Despite of any strong steps forward which changed the air we breathe, I still feel that there have been a couple of interesting developments on air quality improvement pathway in India during 2018:

a. Government coming out with at-least the draft version of NCAP (National Clean Air Programme) in April which is supposed to have time bound pollution reduction targets of 35% in next three years and 50% in next five years 9although the recent communications in media suggests that it might be brought down to lesser reductions than proposed which if happens will be a set back).

b.Various organisations and citizens from across the country coming together to support each other in achieving the shared dream of a Clean Air Nation has definitely built a momentum for people’s campaigns like #MyRightToBreathe this year. This is a great development because it makes the policy makers hear the voice of public demanding for urgent and strict action on combating the Health Emergency we face due to hazardous air pollution levels.

Sunil Dahiya, Greenpeace (@Sunil_S_Dahiya)

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