Amid the World Bank report claiming air pollution in 2013 led to 1.4 million deaths, experts from 17 institutions put forward 10 solutions to "breathable air" in Indian cities, urging the launch of a "National Clean Air Mission" on the lines of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The experts at World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) organised by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) here gave solutions in a joint report of TERI and University of California-San Diego. The report, "Breathing Cleaner Air, ten scalable solutions for India cities" was contributed by 17 authors from different institutes including IIT-Kanpur, Stockholm University, University of Maryland, Max Plank Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Labratory, California Air Resource Board and others. "There is a need for a National mission for clean air, that's the level of commitment required to make for breathable air," said V. Ramanathan from UC-San Diego. He also said that the report was also submitted to Jerry Brown, Governor of California, who has expressed his willingness to work with Indian government on a clean air mission. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Brown during his US visit," he said. "This Clean Air Mission should have mandate to implement government policies for air pollution mitigation across several ministries dealing with transport, power, construction, agriculture, rural development and environment as well as across city and state jurisdiction," the report said. The report added that the target should be focused on particulate matters (PM 2.5 and 10) and Ozone. Noting agricultural residue burning as a major reason for air-pollution, the report advocated developing business model for collection, transportation and storage of agricultural residue and manure. "This strategy aims at reducing open burning of agricultural residue and instead of using them as a source of energy," the report said, The other solutions were based on the sectors including Transport, Residential, Agricultural, Power and other industry, Dust and waste. "Shifting freight transport from road to lower-emission modes like rail and inland waterways and coastal shipping is required. There is a terminal planned in Varanasi, but more are needed," Sumit Sharma from TERI, one of the author of the report said. Other suggestions range from providing cleaner fuels, deploying national emission trading schemes (ETS) with cap and trade for power generation and other large polluting industries and implementing wall to wall paving of streets and vacuum cleaning of roads. "The government is already working with ETS in three industrial clusters in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, which needs to be scaled up," the report pointed out. A recent World Bank report claimed that 1.6 million people lost life in China due to air pollution. "It seems that India and China are competing for wrong reasons," Sharma said.

Source: October 6, 2016, Business Standard