Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rs. 98,000 Cleared for 100 Smart Cities Program in India (AMRUT)

The Cabinet on Wednesday approved Modi government's two flagship schemes - 100 smart cities and urban rejuvenation programme for 500 towns and cities. The idea is to recast the urban landscape and to make such areas more livable and inclusive, besides driving economic growth. The government cleared a total central outlay of Rs 98,000 crore to execute these schemes in the next five years. Work is to be undertaken for smaller cities and towns with one lakh or more population under a new scheme named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee - Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Centre will spend Rs 50,000 crore for this scheme. This will be the new scheme in place of JNNURM named after India's first PM Jawaharlal Nehru during UPA rule.

Read more @ Times of India

Cost of Making Cities Environmentally Smart (for air pollution) - currently not discussed in the 100 smart cities program.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cost of Building a Robust Air Quality Monitoring and Information Dissemination Platform in India

Rs. 7500 crores for 10 years, for 50 cities, with at least 30 continuous monitoring stations each.

We put together some back of the envelope calculations to jump start the discussion on what it would take to build an all continuous air quality monitoring program in India. Full article is published @ India Together

Lets discuss, for the sake of feasibility, the 50 cities from the smart cities program – those with at least one million population (as reported in the 2011 Census). Here are some rough calculations for introducing and operating a continuous system for 10 years. Note that the costs are anecdotal, based on the discussions with suppliers and subject to change over time. These calculations are here to provide an idea of the likely required investment
  • Average cost of a continuous monitoring station (measuring all the criteria pollutants and meteorological parameters) is approximately 1 crore rupees, plus 10 percent by way of annual maintenance fee
  • A representative sample size per city is 30 stations; which puts the required number of stations at 1500 in the 50 cities (we can argue that a big city like Delhi can use +10 stations and a small city like Indore can use -10 stations)
  • This translates to a required investment of Rs 3,000 crore (including 10 percent annual maintenance fees for 10 years)
  • Cost of infrastructure, personnel and training could be an additional 100 percent (this is on the high side, given that the CPCB already operates some of the 573 manual stations across these cities with necessary infrastructure and personnel already in place)
  • Even if we assume a 50 percent hike in the prices and fees, this puts the tab at Rs 7,500 crore for ten years (1 crore = 10 million)
For 50 cities to be environmentally smart and report air pollution and its severity in real time, for ten years, this is not a big sum. The cost of the Delhi metro system is approximately 75,000 crores, which is currently supporting less than five percent of the travel demand in the city. There are similar metro systems, either planned or already under construction, in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and others. According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, in January 2015 alone, the total consumption of petroleum products in India was 13.9 million metric tonnes. Which means, an additional cess of 50 paise per kg of petroleum products sold, will translate to Rs 695 crore a month (or approximately 8,340 crores rupees per year) – enough to cover the estimated costs to operate a reliable and transparent air quality information management system in 50 cities for ten years.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Air Quality - Delhi vs. Beijing

Is it more dangerous to breathe the air in Delhi or Beijing? We know that both cities are hazardous to your lungs, but residents of India’s capital have been rattled by a growing chorus of claims that they are more at risk than people living in Beijing, the global poster-child for air pollution. Douw Steyn, a Professor at University of British Columbia has obtained two-years-worth of hourly data from the monitoring station in Delhi’s RK Puram neighbourhood, and from the US embassy in Beijing. Each station measures the deadly microfine particles known as PM 2.5 in micrograms per cubic meter of air, which was crunched to produce what staticians call a QQ plot (for quantile vs. quantile).

You could leave it at that, but if you want to understand exactly what the chart means, and why it matters, read on. You can also read Professor Steyn’s explanation to HT here.

More @ Hindustan Times

Infographic - Comparing Air Pollution and Actions in Beijing and Delhi

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Interesting Editorials and Op-Eds Published (in the last month) on Air Pollution in Delhi (and India)

Op-Ed by Sarath Guttikunda on 2015/Mar/21

Leave Delhi - That’s what doctors are prescribing to patients with serious respiratory ailments
Editorial by Indian Express on 2015/Apr/02

Dealing with air pollution in our cities
Op-Ed by Dinesh Mohan on 2015/Apr/04

Mumbai to Chennai: How Delhi could show the wayOp-Ed by Aniruddha Ghosalon 2015/Apr/09

Take a deep breath
Op-Ed by Rajat Kathuria and Nicholas Stern on 2015/Apr/10

A new vehicle for clean air
Op-Ed by Sunita Narain on 2015/Apr/11

Make the polluter pay
Op-Ed by Michael Greenstone, Rohini Pande, Nicholas Ryan and Anant Sudarshan on 2015/Apr/13

Government will ask NGT to review truck ban
Editorial by Indian Express on 2015/Apr/13
(Infograph on impact of this ban)

Take a longer, larger view
Op-Ed by Dinesh Mohan on 2015/Apr/14

What Delhi can learn from Paris
Op-Ed by Francois Richier on 2015/Apr/15

In Delhi, do as Beijing does
Op-Ed by Michael Walsh on 2015/Apr/17

Swachh Bharat should include Swachh air
Op-Ed by Jyothi Parikh on 2015/Apr/18

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ban on Old Vehicles is Not Enough to Clean Delhi's Air

Banning old diesel vehicles may not be enough to address severe air pollution in Delhi. Other countries have been imposing higher taxes, excise duties and registration costs to discourage people from buying diesel vehicles. They have also introduced low-sulphur diesel to clean up vehicle emissions. Read more @ Times of India

Infographic - Share of banned vehicles contribution to PM pollution problem in Delhi

Don S Jayaweera, chairman of National Transport Commission in Sri Lanka, recently made a presentation in Delhi on how Sri Lanka managed to discourage diesel vehicles. It registered 4,371 hybrid cars to its fleet as against 178 diesel cars and 2,099 petrol cars in 2015. In 2014, it added 23,287 hybrid, 2,846 diesel and 12,226 petrol cars.

The French government, which is considering making Paris diesel-free by 2020, doesn't allow diesel cars to run on severe smog days. With its focus on reducing CO2 emissions, European countries promoted diesel cars for many years, but they have had to pay a price in terms of high levels of PM2.5 (fine, respirable particles) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). Civil society organizations recently took United Kingdom to court for breaching safe standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Souces of Air Pollution in Mumbai

Burning of fuel, garbage and wood, vehicular emissions due to traffic congestion, dust from construction activity and road development are releasing toxic pollutants into the air, that Mumbaiites inhale every day. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) last conducted a large-scale assessment of pollution levels across the country, including Mumbai, four years ago. There has been no data since then, by way of an annual report by either the CPCB or the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB). Read more @ Hindustan Times

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

India Launches AQI System

Amid growing concerns over deteriorating air quality in India’s major cities, the government on Monday launched the National Air Quality Index (AQI) that will put out real time data about the level of pollutants in the air and inform people about the possible impacts on health.

Read more @ the Hindu

Launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the two-day conference of Environment and Forest Ministers, the new index will initially cover 10 cities — Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad — each of which would have monitoring stations with AQI display boards. The aim was to eventually deploy the index in all cities with a population of over one million.

“The Air Quality Index may prove to be a major impetus to improving air quality in urban areas, as it will improve public awareness in cities to take steps for air pollution mitigation,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at the conference.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Want Your Kid to Grow Up Healthy - Leave Delhi

It’s scary, but it has to be told. If you want your kid to grow up into a normal, healthy person Delhi is not the place where he/she should be. Around 22 lakh school children in the national capital are growing up with irreversible lung damage.  The doctors’ prescription: Leave Delhi, right now, if you want to save your children from fatal lungs disorders, severe respiratory problems, nausea, palpitation, loss of vision, blood pressure and fatigue.

Delhi’s air is just too polluted. Read the full article @ First Post, along with Study finding

A study conducted by scientists from Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) has found that the number of killer respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) is increasing in the city’s air with alarming rate. The RSPM or PM10 levels spiked to 316 µg/m3 (microgram per cubic metre) in 2014, which are double that of Beijing from 161 µg/m3 in 2007. Produced by vehicles and during combustion in industries, RSPMs are small and toxic particles that cause major respiratory ailments.

Another piece from Indian Express

A total of 11,628 school-going children (7757 boys and 3871 girls) from 36 schools in different parts of Delhi were included in the study meant for assessments of their respiratory health status and degree of lung function impairment among them. The capital’s children were compared with 4,536 children (boys 2950 and girls 1586) from 15 schools of rural West Bengal and 2 schools from Khirsu and Kotdwar in Uttaranchal. The age of the children studied was between 4 to 17 years.

The study of respiratory health of the children was done on the basis of questionnaire survey and clinical examination, pulmonary function test (PFT) by spirometry, assessment of childhood obesity, examination of cellular lung reaction to inhaled pollutants by sputum cytology and cytochemistry, assessment of haematological and vascular changes associated with air pollution exposure following standard haematological procedure and assessment of behavioural characteristics.

Read the full article @ First Post, along with Study finding

Friday, April 03, 2015

Air Pollution News & Alerts - April 3rd, 2015

Indian Express, April 3rd, 2015
No bypass for Delhi’s choked heart.

Indian Express, April 3rd, 2015
While you are sleeping: 80,000 trucks enter Delhi every night, poison on wheels.

Science Daily, April 2nd, 2015
Algae from wastewater solves two problems: Biofuel and clean-up.

The Gaurdian, April 2nd, 2015
Why Corporate America is reluctant to take a stand on climate action.

The Gaurdian, April 2nd, 2015
Why the Guardian Media Group is getting out of fossil fuels.

Financial Express, April 2nd, 2015
Checking air pollution should be priority for all: Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP to Prakash Javadekar.

World Coal, April 2nd, 2015
Findings from the 2015 National Congress in Rome.

Beijinger, April 2nd, 2015
New Study Says Car Exhaust Still Largest Contributor to Beijing's Air Pollution.

Economic Times, April 2nd, 2015
North India moves to Euro IV fuel but industry lags behind.

First Post, April 2nd, 2015
Delhi is dangerously polluted? Everybody knows, nobody cares.

Economic Times, April 2nd, 2015
Air pollution worsens as governments sit on action plans.

Times of India, April 2nd, 2015
Delhi can't cut air pollution alone.

The Guardian, April 2nd, 2015
New studies link pollution to a variety of health risks.

Sydney Morning Herald, April 2nd, 2015
Coal the biggest contributor to toxic air pollution.

Indian Express, April 2nd, 2015
Landmark study lies buried: How Delhi’s poisonous air is damaging its children for life.

The Gaurdian, April 2nd, 2015
Air pollution may cause more UK deaths than previously thought.

The Hindu, April 2nd, 2015
Power struggle in Telangana.

Indian Express, April 1st, 2015
WHO asks Pune institutes to find out how air pollutants affect health.

Economic Times, April 1st, 2015
US pledge on emission cut likely to raise the heat on India.

Think Progress, April 1st, 2015
Here’s How China Is Planning To Curb Its Climate Impact.

Indian Express, April 1st, 2015
Leave Delhi: That’s what doctors are prescribing to patients with serious respiratory ailments.

Science Daily, April 1st, 2015
Eggs and chicken instead of beef reap major climate gains.

Power Technology, March 31st, 2015
Reliance Power turns 3960MW power project operational in Madhya Pradesh, India.

Energy Central, March 31st, 2015
Beijing launches new program to measure and curb pollution.

NPR, March 31st, 2015
U.S. Announces Target To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

NPR, March 31st, 2015
U.S. Promises To Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions Up To 28 Percent By 2025.

Sustain Blog, March 31st, 2015
How To Improve Your Indoor Air Quality.

Hindustan Times, March 31st, 2015
Air pollution: We haven’t seen the stars in a while.

Indian Express, March 31st, 2015
Delhi air made Arvind Kejriwal ill, says Bangalore doctor.

Times of India, March 31st, 2015
Beijing to limit motorists on heavily polluted days.

Times of India, March 31st, 2015
Cancer cases may double in 5 years in Kolkata.

Times of India, March 31st, 2015
Exercise outweighs harmful effects of air pollution.

Economic Times, March 31st, 2015
How non-motorised transport can be the panacea for urban pollution woes.

DNA India, March 31st, 2015
Air Quality index a beginning for tackling pollution in Delhi.

Environmental Technology, March 31st, 2015
Media Attention Needed for Air Quality Monitoring.

Mail Today, March 31st, 2015
Neighbouring states add to Delhi's air pollution woes.

Science Daily, March 30th, 2015
Volcanic eruptions found to durably impact climate through alterations to North Atlantic Ocean circulation.

Power Engineering, March 30th, 2015
UN agrees to keep funding clean coal.

Indian Express, March 30th, 2015
Delhi pollution: The studies no one acted on.

Hindustan Times, March 30th, 2015
PM Modi to launch country’s first air quality index next week.

Mail Today, March 29th, 2015
Dust chokes Delhi's lungs: How sand particles from construction sites are worsening air pollution.

China Daily, March 28th, 2015
Wuxi draws 2015 haze treatment map.

Asahi Shimbun News, March 28th, 2015
Coal-fired plants to raise Japan’s carbon dioxide emissions by up to 6%.

SCMP News, March 27th, 2015
Cleaning up China's coal power.

Sun Star, March 27th, 2015
Mindanao's committed power projects now at 1,870MW.

Manila Today, March 27th, 2015
Panay Energy, banks sign P11-b power loan.

Eu Observer, March 27th, 2015
France, UK trying to weaken EU air pollution law.

Economic Times, March 27th, 2015
From April, govt will show you air quality with colours.

Science Daily, March 27th, 2015
Climate change does not cause extreme winters.

Hindustan Times, March 27th, 2015
Pollution control: Capital has nobody to check vehicular emissions.

The City Fix, March 26th, 2015
Pricing congestion to invest in sustainable transport: lessons from London.

Click Green, March 26th, 2015
Air Pollution Control: What Is Needed and Why.

Newsweek, March 26th, 2015
Beijing Shuts Down Coal Power Plants as Air Pollution Costs Economy.

China Daily, March 26th, 2015
Real-time air quality monitoring to cover all Hunan counties.

Shanghai Daily, March 26th, 2015
New reform moves for coal sector.

Shanghai Daily, March 25th, 2015
Car owners may seek mobility solutions.

World Coal, March 25th, 2015
China's coal use falling faster than expected.

Eurekalert, March 25th, 2015
A mile deep, ocean fish facing health impacts from human pollution.

Times of India, March 25th, 2015
HC seeks Centre's action plan to curb air pollution in Delhi.

The Diplomat, March 25th, 2015
Can China Get to 'Olympic Blue'?

Science Daily, March 24th, 2015
Air pollution linked to increased risk of anxiety, stroke.

Daily Maverick, March 24th, 2015
Op-Ed: Air pollution - sadly, it’s here to stay.

Bloomberg, March 24th, 2015
Beijing to Close All Major Coal Power Plants to Curb Pollution.

Global Times, March 23rd, 2015
Beijing mayor urges tackling smog.

Times of India, March 23rd, 2015
Urban homes emit more greenhouse gases than industry.

Hindustan Times, March 23rd, 2015
Vehicular pollution checks to become mandatory soon.

Wall Street Journal, March 22nd, 2015
Litigation Awaits New EPA Emissions Rules.

The Hindu, March 21st, 2015
The polluted air we breathe.

Domain-B News, March 21st, 2015
India has least number of polluting coal-based power plants.

World Coal, March 21st, 2015
Enabling low-emission coal-based electricity generation.

IEA, March 21st, 2015
In Asia, how hot is the competition between coal and gas?

Phys.Org, March 21st, 2015
Smog-choked Paris forces half of cars off roads.

The Guardian, March 20th, 2015
Senior scientists call on health charities to shift money out of fossil fuels.

China Daily, March 20th, 2015
China's coal actions help stall CO2 emissions.

Business Insider, March 20th, 2015
China wants to spend $7.6 billion on cleaning up air pollution in order to host the winter Olympics.

Smithsonian, March 20th, 2015
Electric Cars Can Make Cities Cooler.

Economic Times, March 20th, 2015
Real-time air data okay, with rider.

India Education Day, March 20th, 2015
Government identified 144 thermal power plants/stations for improving energy efficiency.

Crienglish, March 20th, 2015
Beijing Shuts Down Coal Power Plant to Cut Pollution.

USA Today, March 20th, 2015
Air quality can affect students’ decisions to study abroad.

Global Post, March 20th, 2015
The air in this major city is way more polluted than the air in Beijing.

Eco-Business, March 20th, 2015
Lessons from Southeast Asia's haze can solve air pollution in China.

Scientific American, March 19th, 2015
In Los Angeles, Cleaner Air Is Helping Children Breathe Easier.

Economic Times, March 19th, 2015
Air pollution level in Delhi exceeds WHO limits.

BBC, March 19th, 2015
Air pollution prompts UK health warning.

Global Times, March 19th, 2015
Delhi anti-pollution efforts could look to Beijing’s stricter standards.

Energy Collective, March 19th, 2015
The Real Prize: India Energy Planning.
The Atlantic City Labs, March 19th, 2015
NYC's 'Taxi of Tomorrow' Is Still the Yellow Cab.

NPR, March 19th, 2015
How President Obama Wants To Shrink The Government's Carbon Footprint.

Science Daily, March 19th, 2015
Geoengineering proposal may backfire: Ocean pipes 'not cool,' would end up warming climate.

Science Daily, March 19th, 2015
Hidden benefits of electric vehicles revealed.

The City Fix, March 19th, 2015
Why are the two most sustainable forms of transport missing from the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The City Fix, March 18th, 2015
How the built environment influences who rides bus rapid transit.

Shanghai Daily, March 18th, 2015
Environmental officials vow to fight pollution.

Xinhua Net, March 18th, 2015
'Olympic Blue' is coming.

Rush Lane, March 18th, 2015
India needs sustainable fuels for transport sector.

Mirror, March 18th, 2015
Toxic smog hits UK: Air pollution health alert is set trigger asthma attacks and heart problems tomorrow.

Energy Central, March 18th, 2015
Dutch coal-tax exemption worth Eur4 billion for new plant owners.

Huffington Post, March 17th, 2015
China Targets Big Oil In Wars On Corruption, Pollution.

City Metric, March 17th, 2015
How China could fix its air pollution problem.

IBN Live, March 17th, 2015
Coal or solar, what will power India's.

Business Standard, March 16th, 2015
Competitive pollutionism no good.

Asian Age, March 16th, 2015
Delhi again tries to link PUC with sale of fuel.

RTCC, March 16th, 2015
Toxic Delhi: Earth’s most polluted city has no plan to cut emissions.

India Today, March 16th, 2015
Choking on the truth - How the air that sustains our life is also slowly killing us.

CNN, March 16th, 2015
Invisible threat to maternal and child health.

EP Online, March 16th, 2015
California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

Indian Express, March 16th, 2015
Government gets ‘last opportunity’ to enforce NGT orders on air pollution.

CCTV, March 16th, 2015
China closes factories to reduce water and soil pollution.

Arab News, March 16th, 2015
12 million cars causing air pollution.

Taipei News, March 16th, 2015
EPA urged to step up fight against pollution.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Infographic on Indoor Air Pollution

Got the sniffles? Sinus congestion? Itchy skin or eyes? OK, it’s Spring right now, and plants are blooming, but if you feel these things year-round, you may want to give some thought to your indoor air quality. More @ Sustainblog

UN's Green Climate Fund for Coal-fired Power Generation

The UN fund to help developing countries fight climate change can be spent on coal-fired power plants – the most polluting form of electricity generation – under rules agreed at a board meeting.
The green climate fund (GCF) refused an explicit ban on fossil fuel projects at the contentious meeting in Songdo, South Korea, last week.

Article from the Guardian

“It’s like a torture convention that doesn’t forbid torture,” said Karen Orenstein, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth US who was at the meeting. “Honestly it should be a no-brainer at this point.” The fund was set up as part of the ongoing UN climate negotiations to help developing countries finance clean energy and measures to help adapt to climate change. Its website states: “The fund will promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.” It has struggled for support, however, with industrialised countries paying only about 1% of the $10.2bn (£6.9bn) committed at the UN climate negotiations in Lima last December. The deadline for contributions is 30 April.

With no clear rules on climate finance, much of the funds can be channelled to dirty energy, campaigners say. Japan designated $1bn in loans for coal plants in Indonesia as climate finance, according to reporting by the Associated Press. Last week Japan counted another $630m in loans for coal plants in India and Bangladesh as climate finance. Japan claims the projects are less polluting than older coal-fired plants and so qualify as clean energy. “Japan is of the view that the promotion of high-efficiency coal-fired power plants is one of the realistic, pragmatic and effective approaches to cope with the issue of climate change,” Takako Ito, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, told AP.

Campaigners say the lack of clear rules makes a mockery of the fund. “Many people think it’s crazy that they are not going to have a no-go zone,” Orenstein said. “The fact that the GCF won’t say it is problematic both for the integrity of the fund, and also reputational risk.” Japan, China and Saudi Arabia opposed such a ban, she said. The board agreed to set a minimum benchmark for the greenhouse gas emissions cuts that projects must achieve, but not until 2016. Meanwhile, they will apply an “assessment scale” to the first projects, which are set to be approved in October.

Leave Delhi - Doctors Prescription

Jamil, Juhi Garg and Meera Prasad don’t know that the killer dust in Delhi’s air, RSPM (respirable suspended partculate matter), began falling after CNG was introduced and then, seven years ago, took a treacherous U-turn for the worse. What they know is that their children cough and wheeze into each night — Jamil lost his first child to pneumonia — and after several trips to the hospital, there’s only one advice doctors have for them: Leave Delhi.

Read more @ Indian Express

Technical Solutions are not Enough to Solve Air Pollution Problems in Indian Cities

Easier said than done, of course, but that advice betrays the sense of despair in the city’s health establishment over public policy failing to respond to a public health disaster in the making.
Records investigated by The Indian Express from the Out Patient Departments (OPD) of Delhi’s leading hospitals show that after the Supreme Court order of 1998 led to public transport vehicles switching to the cleaner CNG fuel, the two main hospitals handling a bulk of respiratory ailments reported a clear dip in cases.

Air Pollution in Indian Cities

Like the RSPM curve, which this investigation mapped yesterday, the number of OPD cases at the Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (VPCI) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hit a low a few years after that verdict. Then, they started to spike, as RSPM levels rose from 161 µg/m3 (microgram per cubic metre) in 2007 to 316 µg/m3 in 2014. VPCI: The number of OPD cases dipped from 51,694 in 2003-04 to 47,887 in 2006-07 and then started rising to reach an all-time high of 65,122 cases in 2013-14. AIIMS: The trend is similar, from 10,296 OPD cases for respiratory ailments in 2005-06 to a low of 9,519 in 2007-08 and again, an all-time high of 37,669 in 2014-15.

Where is the Real Time Monitoring Data in India?

To place that last figure in context, AIIMS started a separate respiratory department in 2013.
Admitting that these numbers are cause for serious alarm, Dr Randeep Guleria, head of respiratory medicine, AIIMS, told The Indian Express: “What is most worrying is that 10-15 years ago, when air pollution levels had come down, our average OPD attendance and admissions in respiratory medicine at AIIMS saw about a 20% decline. We seem to have lost out on our own achievements. As pollution levels have gone up, our public health success has been reversed.”

Air Pollution in Delhi - Winter Time Highs and Blame Games