Clearing the Air: Seminar Series

Clearing the Air Seminar Series was organised by the Initiative on Climate, Energy and Environment (ICEE) at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR). This series aimed to promote sustained and informed public understanding around the data, impacts, sources and policy challenges involved in clearing Delhi’s air. While it focused on the context of Delhi, the series also reflected on the fact that the problem extends far beyond Delhi. The seminar series presented the work of experts in a range of areas to help promote informed public discussion about what changes are needed, what is possible, and how to get it done. Clearing the air in terms of knowledge and public information, the organizers hope, will make a small contribution toward actually clearing Delhi’s air.

Learn more about the series here, and watch the videos here.

Ongoing research program in Delhi-NCR

Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health in an Indian Megacity is a four year research programme jointly funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Newton–Bhabha Fund, and the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT). Urban air pollution is a severe problem in India with significant impacts on the economy and the health of the population.

This programme, which has been organised into four interrelated themes, will support research on the sources and emissions of urban air pollution in New Delhi, India, the processes underlying and impacting on these, and how air pollution then impacts on health. Existing and new findings will be combined to understand the cost-effectiveness of potential interventions and thus identify appropriate solutions for the benefit of the economy and population.

Learn more about the various projects here.

*Note: Text is from the project website*

WHO releases global air pollution update

***Crossposted from the WHO website*** 

More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organization (WHO) limits. While all regions of the world are affected, populations in low-income cities are the most impacted.

According to the latest air quality database, 97% of cities in low- and middle income countries with more than 100 000 inhabitants do not meet WHO air quality guidelines. However, in high-income countries, that percentage decreases to 49%.

In the past two years, the database – now covering more than 4000 cities in 108 countries – has nearly doubled, with more cities measuring air pollution levels and recognizing the associated health impacts.

As urban air quality declines, the risk of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma, increases for the people who live in them.

Read more here.

View the air pollution map 


National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

The goal of the National Clean Air Progamme (NCAP) is to meet the prescribed annual average ambient air quality standards at all locations in the country within a stipulated timeframe.

Details of the programme are available here, and public comments are invited until May 17, 2018.

The programme was first announced in January 2018 (link), and a stakeholder consultation has been organized on April 19 and 20, 2018 to discuss the programme (agenda for consultation).

Graphic: The Economic Times 

Related media coverage

Govt plan a Rs 637-crore Clean Air Programme to give you clean air 

MoEFCC releases details of National Clean Air Programme; no clarity yet on emission reduction targets 

Community Spotlight: Avril Unger

When Art Meets Air Pollution

In February 2018, Avril Unger, a performance artist collaborated with Jhatkaa, a Bengaluru-based advocacy and campaigning organization for her latest piece, an art installation on air pollution.  Read about it here and here.

An excerpt from the news piece:

You’d probably be perplexed at the sight of her, performance artist Avril Stormy Unger wearing an air pollution mask, clutching flowers in her hand, and sitting on an immense wooden chair alongside traffic-choked Old Madras Road. And seeing her again, the next day and the next. You’d become intrigued, curious enough to start asking questions – and that’s exactly the point.”


Avril Unger is an interdisciplinary performance artist interested in disrupting social patterns while challenging the relationship between the audience and artist. Her recent works include public interventions around Bengaluru, site specific installations and collaborations with other artists.

A short Q&A with Avril:

What was your motivation for designing and executing this performance piece? 

 It started off as a part of another project, we were all asked to react to the city- my topic was fading wonder and since I come from a small town (Mangalore) when I came to the city it was filled with this magical wonder that soon faded. The first time I performed this piece I was surrounded by people who spent everyday in that area, the petrol station staff, the police etc. So it started becoming about them and the pollution that they need to withstand in order to do their jobs every single day.

Given the poor quality of the environment in India, how can artists and performers contribute towards this discourse?

I think artists should be active in increasing awareness of the issue, since this is something that is not given heed until it is too late. Small projects in their own communities and neighbourhoods will go a long way.

Are there any active collaborations between government, researchers and artists focusing on the issue of air quality?

 Not that I am aware of. Jhatkaa was the first time I performed with an organisation as until then I have been doing it on my own.

Find Avril on Twitter (@AvrilUnger).

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 


Researcher in Spotlight- Arti Choudhary

Dr. Arti Choudhary’s research is focused on on-road emission characterization and emission modelling. She is currently working at the Central Road Research Institute (CSIR-CRRI). She has a PhD from the Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (India) and M.Tech. from Thapar University, Patiala (India).arti

Her past research was funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India and recently, she was awarded the SERB-National Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Find her on Google Scholar , Linkedin and ResearchGate.  You can also contact her via e-mail.

A short Q & A with Dr. Choudhary:


What is your SERB project focused on?

My SERB project focused on three different engine type auto-rickshaw, like petrol fuelled auto-rickshaw, CNG fuelled auto-rickshaw and e-rickshaw, for on-road driving cycle development and on-road emission factor (EF) estimation for two different cities- Delhi and Guwahati. Some other focus points of the project are assessment of operational and financial performance of e-rickshaws and CNG fuelled auto-rickshaws as compared to petrol-fuelled auto-rickshaws in terms of emission reduction potential per kilometre, fuel economy, maintenance cost per kilometre, operating costs per passenger, and the ratio of operating costs to traffic revenues.

How did you get interested in the field of air pollution?

The topic of air pollution and its impact on the environment is important and is highly relevant in the wake of the alarming air pollution in the most of the urban cities of India. I found my interest in air pollution during my M.Tech. dissertation project. Through sampling and analysing (size-segregated) PM across locations, I learnt about the dynamic behaviour of pollutants, seasonal variation and its impacts on human health and our environment. I found real time data collection, analysis and assessment of its impact in real world to be very interesting. This motivated me to continue research on air pollution and during my PhD, I chose to study transportation sector for real-world emission characterization, which is one of the significant sources of air pollution, particularly in urban areas.

As a young scientist, what are the biggest challenges you face in terms of conducting research? 

As a researcher, I found instrumentation to be the biggest challenge in air pollution research in India. Collaborative research across the nation is neither flexible nor supportive. For quality research, we need to manage better collaboration across national and regional research laboratories and scientific organizations, and better linkages with the foreign academic community.

New logo!


In the last couple of months, I have been working with Shahana Chaudhury of Toji Communication Consultancy who kindly agreed to help with designing a logo for AQ in India.

Thanks to all of you who submitted their suggestions, and a special shout-out to Shahzad Gani and Adithya Pasupuleti for some great ideas!

Finally, thanks to Sarath Guttikunda for providing the emissions map that has been used in the logo.

And, without much ado, here is the Air Quality in India logo:



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Job Opportunity at ICCT

The ICCT seeks a highly committed, self-motivated person to contribute to our research to reduce vehicle emissions and improve efficiency of light and heavy duty vehicles in India.  We expect the successful candidate to work across a range of technical and policy areas, and take on other projects as the need arises.


To apply, please send resume, a cover letter with salary expectations, writing samples, and three professional references (all documents as attachments) to (subject line: “India Researcher”).  Preference will be given to candidates whose cover letters directly address the position being offered.  This is an immediate opening and the position will remain open until filled.  Applicants without the supplemental materials will receive less consideration. No calls and no recruiters