Ahmedabad Unveils Groundbreaking Protections Against Deadly Air Pollution
AHMEDABAD, INDIA – Indian government officials and partners today unveiled the first-of-its-kind comprehensive health-based plan to protect citizens from deadly air pollution, which is being established in Ahmedabad, one of the most polluted cities in South Asia.
The initiative includes a new Air Quality Index and Air Information and Response (AIR) plan for the city of nearly seven million, which will provide daily air quality reports, a warning system to alert people in about dangerously high pollution levels and efforts to shield people from extreme heat—a rising danger across India with the growing effects of climate change.
The AIR plan will focus on protecting those most at risk from pollution, those with respiratory ailments, children, pregnant women, outdoor workers and the elderly.
“Air pollution in metropolitan areas is recognized as a major threat to the future generations. The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research AQI for Ahmedabad is our package of preventive technologies,” Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Honorable Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences in the Indian government, said in releasing the plan.
The plan has been developed by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and the Indian Meteorological Department.
“Ahmedabad is taking a bold step to safeguard its citizens from dangerous air pollution,” said Anjali Jaiswal, director of NRDC’s India Initiative. “The combination of the new air quality index and the Air Information and Response Plan will make the city a leader in protecting public health.”
Ahmedabad’s new initiative draws on experiences from other cities, including Mexico, Beijing, Los Angeles, and New Delhi, and includes these key elements:
- Eight new air quality monitoring sites across Ahmedabad that will produce a daily air quality index of pollutants available to the public.
- Eleven new LED display boards to keep citizens informed about the air quality index across the city.
- An early warning system to notify the public of excessive pollution days.
- An education campaign to build awareness of health effects from pollution.
- Building medical capacity to care for those who are affected by air pollution.
- Targeted outreach to protect vulnerable groups such as school children.
- A school flag program for children that will inform them of safe to dangerous air quality with flags of five different colors corresponding with the air quality index.
The city’s Air Quality Index will gather data on pollutants in Ahmedabad’s air, including sulfur dioxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, coarse and fine particles and other chemicals.
The index will be published in real time and as a forecast through various public communication channels including display boards, a web portal, a mobile application and will be available on a toll-free phone number for those without smart phones. Based on this information, the city health department will carry alerts or warnings as necessary.
“The Ahmedabad AIR plan is modeled on the city’s Heat Action Plan, South Asia’s first early warning system on extreme heat. Since it launched in 2013, other cities in India have followed suit with their own similar measures. We are proud that Ahmedabad is taking leadership on developing this first health-based air pollution plan as well,” said Ahmedabad Mayor Mr. Gautam Shah during the release event today.
City Commissioner Mr. Mukesh Kumar, said, “The central aim of the plan is to save lives and help the people of Ahmedabad to create a healthier community, more secure from the dangers of air pollution.”
In Ahmedabad, the main sources of pollution are from vehicle emissions and stationary sources. The city has two coal-fired power plants, 855 chemical factories, 511 foundries and 380 textile plants, low-efficiency brick kilns and trash burning that are contributors to air pollution.
“Preparing our cities to adapt to rising air pollution is a critical aspect of addressing serious health issues and mortality. The Ahmedabad AIR plan is tailored to help its most vulnerable residents. With air pollution becoming a major concern, we hope this can be a model for other cities to develop their own strategies” said Dr. Dileep Mavalankar, Director of the Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar.
The Ahmedabad Air Information and Response Plan is here.
More information about Ahmedabad’s clean air effort is here.
NRDC’s India Initiative Director Anjali Jaiswal has written about Ahmedabad new air pollution strategy here.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC and @NRDC_India.
The Indian Institute of Public Health, Gandhinagar (IIPH) is a leader on public health education, advocacy and research on public health. IIPH pushes the mandate of equity in public health, applying strategy, resources and networks to the issues and practice of public health in India. IIPH’s programs aim to make education and research activities relevant to India in content and context.