The BreatheLife campaign welcomes its third BreatheLife member from India, Nagpur, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.
Change is afoot in the city of 2.4 million citizens, which has been chosen as one of India’s 100 Smart Cities, an urban renewal and retrofitting programme by the Government of India aimed at developing 100 sustainable, citizen-friendly “smart cities” across the country.
Nagpur has aligned its air quality goals with national efforts, committing to meeting some of the World Health Organization guidelines for fine particulate matter and other health-harmful pollutants.
“Our goal is to bring climate change mitigation practices through investment in development across different sectors like water resources management, health, climate change, and so on,” said Nagpur Municipal Corporation Executive Engineer Shweta Banerjee.
“We aim to bring healthy living standards by incorporating sustainable and conservative ways for usage of resources. We plan to achieve these goals in alignment with national timelines,” she said.
At the national level, in early 2019, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched a National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which mandates plans aimed to cut levels of dangerous fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5 andPM10) by 20 to 30 per cent by 2024, based on 2017 levels.
Accordingly, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, with technical support from NEERI, has developed a clean air action plan (pdf), the Nagpur City Air Action Plan, which has been approved by the Central Pollution Control Board.
The city hopes to change the way its citizens move to reduce air pollution from transport emissions: a new metro system was inaugurated in March 2019, complementing its Aapli Bus public transport system, which is expected to welcome 100 electric buses into its fleet of city buses, joining the five Tejaswini e-buses already plying Nagpur’s streets.
Nagpur is also laying separate cycling tracks in many parts of the city, setting up public sharing bicycle stations in major locations and metro stations for better connectivity between transport modes.
Meanwhile, “green buffers” are also being developed at highlighted polluted locations, with attendant plans for the installation of water sprinklers at three identified locations.
Nagpur is also working on better managing the city’s waste, having established sewage water and wastewater treatment systems. It’s also working on closing the resource loop, making separation of waste for door-to-door collection mandatory and setting up a centralised material recovery facility at the city’s dumpyard at Bhandewadi, while offering a 5 per cent tax exemption on house taxes for households that practice composting. It also has a plan to install a biomethanization and biogas plant in the near future at Bhandewadi, though “biomining” has already started there.
In parallel, the government says, it takes strict action against open waste burning, deploying a Nuisance Detection Squad— a special squad comprising ex-army men— in each zone, with the power to impose fines on those who flaunt the rules.
To cut household air pollution, the Maharashtra state government— of which Nagpur is the winter capital— is encouraging citizens to adopt solar energy through subsidies on the cost of solar infrastructure and a 5 per cent tax rebate on electricity bills by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company on installation of solar water heaters. It is also planning to encourage a shift from solid fuels and kerosene to LPG.
To boost the share of energy from renewable sources, the government has also introduced exemptions in electricity bills for industry players who install rooftop solar panels.
At the same time, Nagpur is monitoring diesel generator sets and working to ensure uninterruted power supply to reduce the need for these generators. Identified diesel generators in large and medium scale industries and other are subject to strict rules of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, which conducts random checks and can demand third party audits.
In terms of regulating industry emissions, brick kilns— a significant source of air pollution in several major Indian cities— are banned in the Nagpur city area, while the government monitors those in the city’s surrounds.
Under the Air Action Plan of Nagpur, the Nagpur government has proposed location-specific emission reduction from industries and the promotion of cleaner industries, and drawn up a plan for implementation. Regular audits of stack emissions are conducted as part of quality assurance/quality control processes.
Finally, the government is working on reducing open burning of agricultural waste.
To raise public awareness of air quality and the role and importance of all these measures, several projects are being undertaken in Nagpur.
Under Smart City Nagpur projects, Smart Display screens, installed at 52 locations across the city, display Swachh Bharat Abhiyan notifications, local air quality data, and waste management appeals, among other citizen information.
The city works with Clean Air Asia, with which it recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, to install air quality monitoring sensors in schools and analyze data on air quality, using the information as a launchpad to raising awareness among relevant stakeholders of the impact of air pollution on children.
Under the partnership, a training programme was launched for sanitation workers on waste burning issues and the health impacts of air pollution.
Finally, Nagpur and Clean Air Asia coordinates Y-CAN activities by youth volunteers in Nagpur City, including activities like awareness campaigns on ending idling at red lights and social media outreach.
But Nagpur hopes that its experience will also help and inspire action among a wide variety of stakeholders.
“As Nagpur continues on our clean air journey alongside other major cities in India, we wish to showcase the impacts of actions taken to reduce air pollution and sensitize different stakeholders to the importance of good air quality to health, economy and climate action and compel them to reduce air pollution,” said Banerjee.
Follow Nagpur’s clean air journey here.