ICLEI South Asia has been providing support to city governments in Delhi, Meerut, and Gurugram, as they grapple with the daunting challenge of air pollution, through the Clean Air Action project with support from the Clean Air Fund. As part of the project activities, a recent roundtable discussion titled Building City Leadership on Clean Air Action in Delhi NCR, was organised, bringing together officials from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), as well as academicians from various educational institutions specialising in planning and environmental issues. The aim of the discussion was to explore comprehensive solutions and establish a collaborative platform for city governments and educational institutions to work together in addressing air quality management-related challenges.
During the discussions, a senior superintending engineer from the MCD highlighted the corporation’s extensive efforts, including road paving, establishment of three Construction and Demolition waste plant stations for waste management, and the maintenance of a solid waste management system. The Deputy Director of the MCD’s horticulture department also provided details on the city’s plantation drive and adoption of vermicomposting to address organic waste. Officials from the GMDA spoke about pollution control measures such as irrigation and fencing to ensure that the saplings they are planting get the best chance of survival, building check dams to control the flow of water harvesting, and installation of 24 sensors to measure air quality and of water sprays along roads and on construction sites to control dust.
Esteemed academicians from prestigious educational institutions such as the School of Planning and Architecture, the University of Delhi, and Jamia Millia Islamia brought to light various critical concerns during the discussions. These included the significance of selecting appropriate native species and trees with a high air pollution tolerance index, the role of effective planning in pollution control measures, the impact of factors such as dust, green cover enhancement, and transportation on air pollution, and the need for re-evaluating road design to address the issue effectively.
The session concluded with positive outcomes as the institutes and city officials acknowledged the discussions as a positive step towards addressing air pollution issues. They agreed to collaborate with each other, leveraging the objectives of the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), 15th Finance Commission, and other local-level programs and schemes focused on improving air quality. The participation of educational institutes in supporting other cities in India with air quality assessment studies was also noted, and the institutes expressed their willingness to work with the cities under the Clean Air project. Furthermore, there was mutual encouragement for collaboration and support in terms of research and the availability of quality data related to air quality.