National Clean Air Programme: What’s in the words?

Comment period is currently open for the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP, see blog entry here), and Shahzad Gani conducted a text analytics assessment of the document to identify words and themes. Some interesting patterns emerged from this analysis. The words ‘air’ and ‘pollution’ were mentioned more than 100 times in the NCAP document. Here is a doodle depicting the most used words:



The top ten most common words were:

air (161) | pollution (106)| quality (76)| monitoring (65)| cities (43)| national (40)| health (36)| standards (35)| ambient (34)| data (29)

Other words that were mentioned more than ten times include: pollutants (29); control (24); various (24); aqi (23); stations (23); source(22); sources (22); emission (21); m3 (20); action (19); technology (19); areas (18); including (18); india (18); dust (17); measures (17); studies (17); time (17); μ (17); based (16); concentration (16); environment (16); government (16); hr (16); implementation (16); index (16); management (16); major (15); network (15); people (15); pm10 (15); annual (14); burning(14); city (14); cpcb (14); nil (14); non (14); pm2.5 (14); rural (14); country (13); hours (13); iv (13); level (13); need (13); number (13); poor (13); apportionment (12); attainment (12); delhi (12).


Note: A word version of the NCAP document was kindly provided by Dr. Shoibal Chakravarty (profile) is available for download (NCAP). The analysis was conducted using an online text analytics tool (link).

Comments on NCAP are being accepted until May 17, 2018. 

A personal narrative on air pollution

The following is an open letter from a mother of two who lives in the Delhi-NCR region. Her story is likely to resonate with many of you.

My name is Dr. R. Sharma. I am a mother of two and a doctor by profession. In 2017, I noticed that my younger child was developing cough around the months of the festival Diwali. After 15 days of dry cough, they suddenly devolved acute respiratory distress and I contacted a pulmonologist. He told me that my child had developed bronchitis due to high pollution level (at that time, AQI was ~600).

We started oral medication as well as nebulisation , and after a month of continuous medication, there was only 50% improvement. Then, I decided to send them to my parental village in the hope of clean air. There was a drastic improvement in their respiratory symptoms even without medication and when they came back to the city (Ghaziabad), they again developed similar respiratory symptoms. Around the same time, my other child also developed similar respiratory symptoms . Since the last six months, both of my kids are on medication. I am depressed due to this situation and now I have decided to move from NCR with my kids. My husband has to stay in the city for his job, so I am moving with the kids. 

The major source of pollution in the area around my residence is a number of  polluting factories. I contacted relevant authorities including the DM’s office and CM’ s office in Lucknow but no satisfactory action has been undertaken.

In closing, I want to say that in coming years this will be the major problem for our coming generations. Uncontrolled industrialization and urbanization will lead to an  epidemic of major diseases like lung cancer , bronchitis, asthma, autism etc. The list is never ending. Our next generation will have to pay a heavy price for this nightmare.

This is my sad pollution story . #RightToBreathe

Resources on information related to the impact of air pollution on children’s health:

Air pollution and children’s health [download pdf]

UNICEF Reports on the Impact of Air Pollution on Children

Find Dr. Sharma on Twitter.

Do you have a story to tell? Get in touch!

Air Pollution in Hinjawadi

Hinjawadi is a suburb located in Pune (Maharashtra), India, mainly known for the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park. The 2800-acre IT park in Hinjawadi, houses hundreds of companies of different sizes. (Wikipedia)

A poem on the current situation of air pollution in the area:

धुआँ धुआँ जल रहा गांव मेरा,

कफन से बांध दिया मुँह मेरा।

घुट रहा दम हर दम मेरा,

जाने कहाँ हैं सरकार मेरा।

तारीफों के पुलिंदे बाँध रहे,

कंक्रीट के जंगल बाँध रहे।

घुट रहा दम हर दम मेरा,

जाने कहाँ है सरकार मेरा।

फिरते थे खुली हवा में बच्चे जो,

बंद खिड़की दरवाज़े में खेल रहे।  

Credits: @LiveAbHinjawadi 


Check out the petition to Make Hinjawadi a #LiveableHinjawadi

LetMeBreathe (LMB)- #PollutionStories

Let Me Breathe (LMB) is a platform that provides space to document and tell stories of living and surviving air pollution in India. It started out as a hashtag used by Delhiites while uploading their videologs documenting their days of high pollution but over time has quickly developed into a pan India movement.

LMB combines the ethics of mobile journalism, reach of social media with public engagement at its core. Launched 7 months ago it has already reached out to more than 7. 5 million people and has generated more than 2.5 million views on stories submitted by ordinary folks. They have just launched a video series on Twitter- #PollutionStories.

LMB’s facebook and twitter page acts as a catalogue of all the videos it has received from across India. Influencers range from entrepreneurs in Delhi, Resident Welfare Association (RWA) leaders, non-profits, policy makers to people surviving pollution everyday in the ‘power hub of India’ Singrauli. Some of these stories have already been picked up by big national media houses such as NDTV, Hindustan, as well as citizen initiatives such as YouthKiAwaz.

LMB is funded by various philanthropies and grants and is open to exploring partnerships with organisations who want to work on finding solution to the problem of air pollution. According to them, all you need is a mobile phone and mic to tell a compelling stories.

The initiative now plans to hold workshops across India to talk about LMB and train people on how to use their smartphones to document cause of air pollution as well as things they do to mitigate or protect themselves from pollution.

Communities exist in Delhi, Mumbai, Gangtok, Singrauli at the moment – but they are moving to build more in Bengaluru, Pune, Chandigarh and Kolkata in the coming months.

 Twitter | Facebook | InstagramWebsite


Visibility and Air Pollution

Have you ever visited a city, or a national park or a place of natural beauty and been disappointed by the thick layer of fog or haze or smog that meant you couldn’t enjoy the view? There have been cases where road accidents have occurred due to thick smog, or disappointed tourists who visit Taj Mahal only to find the outline of the iconic monument teasing them through the haze.

Would air pollution matter more if it was visible? If you could always smell it and see it? Would London still be appealing to you if I told you that it is encased in a layer of smog at all times, and you can only venture outside with a face mask, and then too, only for an hour at a time? 

Would it matter more if air pollution made your daily life difficult? 

How does air pollution affect you? 

On February 3rd, 2018, Surabhi Jha (@SurabhiJ7) travelled from Delhi to Chennai, and noticed a stark difference in the air in the two cities.

As she flew out of Delhi, here is what the city looked like:


A couple of hours later, she landed in Chennai to this view:



What changed? Everything was clearer, more visible in Chennai compared to Delhi. Why?

Flights and trains often get delayed or cancelled due to poor visibility (case in point, Delhi), and this can result in significant economic impact over time.

Research has indicated that over time, visibility has declined globally. A study from University of Maryland concluded that “clear sky visibility over land has decreased globally over the past 30 years, indicative of increases in aerosols, or airborne pollution.” [Link

A recent study in select Chinese and Indian cities indicated that over the last decade, the percentage of days with poor visibility has increased significantly. The authors noted that “…visibility in Mumbai, Chennai and Jaipur continued deteriorating and suffered an extremely poor visibility situation in recent years (good day percentages: 0; bad day percentages: 6–100%).” [Link]

Have you noticed or experienced something similar in your city or during your travels? Are you willing to share your experience with us?

Poetry on Delhi Smog

In light of the air pollution episode in Delhi, the following poem has been circulating on social media:

No one noticed
When the sparrows left
It was just another
smoggy winter morning
People drove their cars
dropped their children off
At air conditioned schools
Where they learned
Pollution is a bad thing
It was just another
smoggy winter morning
And stuck on flyovers
No one noticed
That they spent more time on roads
Than with family and friends
So the city of traders
Traded its sparrows,
for SUVs
And children’s lungs
for Diwali firecrackers
Pollution was good for business
And as a million bonfires
lit up in Punjab and Haryana
Delhi bought air purifiers,
masks, cough syrup
and tweeted in anger
But it all started
On a smoggy winter morning
When the last sparrow left
No one noticed,
As that ever useful smog
Hid us from our conscience

-Author Unknown

H/T: Rohit Manaktala