Year in review: 2018

Part II

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.

“Air pollution is the new Tobacco” the emergence of the wide knowledge base on the impact of air quality on health.

Yogesh Ranganathan, CAP-B

“We need to improve the way we listen and communicate. Being in dialogue should not be left only to the mob-comm folks.”

Ankit Bhargava, Sensing Local (@sensinglocal)

“The sobering thought that as a community, we are yet to come together on a common minimum set of thoughtful, long-term policy measures to demand from the government. There’s much work to be done. “

Dr. Santosh Harish, CPR (@santoshharish1)

a. There is no change in the political will to address the problem at the roots. Ministry actually inaugurated vacuum cleaners at the intersections to clean air, which we all know that it doesn’t work.


b. There is new interest from the Ministry and from the states to look into the prospect of informing the public on air pollution (today and tomorrow), which is a big behavioral change.

Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, UrbanEmissions (@UrbanEmissions)

“The outrage about air pollution is amongst the niche elite and not perceived to be a massive problem at all. The narrative needs to shift away from technical talk and mitigating tools and environment vs development, etc to a mass multilingual story about personal health and survival.”

Ravina Raj Kohli, MyRightToBreathe (@ravinarajkohli)

“The biggest learning this year comes from Delhi on air pollution and action/reaction to the by government and policy makers. The debate in Delhi is a learning for all of us to acknowledge and move forward that if people demand for their Right To Breathe, the government will have to respond scumming to public and media pressure even though the steps/announcements we see today on tackling air pollution in Delhi are more of a reaction to the pressure rather than pro-active action by the responsible authorities, but this gives us hope that if people stand united for clean air and breathable India, the authorities and policy makers will have to listen after a point otherwise they will loose credibility and ultimately power as elected representatives. People, media and organisations across the country should learn from Delhi and should rise up to demand strong action on air pollution forcing decision makers to first at-least react and then to act proactively with concrete systematic and comprehensive steps in time bound manner with fixed accountabilities to improve the air quality across the country.”

Sunil Dahiya, Greenpeace (@Sunil_S_Dahiya)

“The level of outrage created for the toxic air quality conditions is a good thing. We need more policy makers, journalists, researchers, technology folks and pretty much all concerned citizens to speak up regularly about this. I’m optimistic that the dialogue around air pollution levels will become more informed and lead to constructive solutions which are grounded in science.”

Ronak Sutaria, UrbanSciences (@rsutaria)

“The inflection point is still far away and we’re running short of time – what I mean by this is that fixing air pollution in India needs to become a political concern for voters before the 2019 national elections around April-May. Past manifestos have barely carried a cursory line on promises to improve AQ. Across the north Indian plains air pollution affects some 400 million people perennially except perhaps with a few days during a good monsoon. So there’s a communication gap between the terrific science and data, which should be impossible to ignore, and the vast majority of people. One wonders whether if basic precautions like keeping schools shut, on winter mornings when PM 2.5 levels are over 250, aren’t taken so as to keep people from asking too many questions!”

Chetan Bhattacharji, NDTV (@CBhattacharji)

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