PMC's efforts for Air Quality and climate Resilience

PMC's efforts for Air Quality and climate Resilience

PUNE, INDIA – The city of Pune through the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) today entered into an agreement to work on the creation and implementation of an air quality management system and a cool roofs program for climate resilience. The PMC will have a collaborative technical and knowledge partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Indian Institute of Public Health – Gandhinagar (IIPH-G), and will work in close collaboration with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). The PMC already has close collaboration with the IITM in implementing SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research) air quality prediction system.

The agreement seeks to build on the existing body of shared knowledge on improvement of air quality and related health impacts by developing a health risk communication plan on air pollution in Pune. The plan includes an alert system for air pollution levels, interagency coordination structure and measures on information, education and outreach to local communities, including vulnerable groups. Through such a plan, the PMC aims to increase its preparedness to counter air pollution related health emergencies, and work towards the improvement of air quality in the city.

The PMC will also be developing a “Cool Roofs” policy for the city of Pune. Through this policy, the PMC aims to increase the thermal comfort for occupants of buildings, improve productivity and reduce energy usage. “Cool Roofs” save energy, increase thermal comfort and reduce cooling demand in the long run. They are widely accepted internationally as an effective energy and money saving strategy that keeps cities cooler and reduces the urban heat island effect.

Shri Mukta Tilak, Hon’ble Mayor of the PMC was present at event. “Healthy air quality is essential to the economic well-being of any city. Working towards the reduction of air pollution in Pune is a priority for me, and we have been working towards it since 2017”, said the Hon’ble Mayor of Pune.

“The air quality management plan will focus on key areas like health risk communication, increased preparedness, information sharing, activities for vulnerable population and long-term actions. This represents an important step towards restoring Pune’s pristine air quality and meeting national ambient air quality standards”, said Shri Saurabh Rao, Hon’ble Municipal Commissioner of the PMC.

Addressing air pollution in the city of Pune has been embarked upon under the overarching guidance of the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India. The MoEFCC has in January 2019 launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), which has set a target of achieving a reduction of air pollution by 20-30% by 2024. The NCAP will be implemented in 102 cities nationally, including the city of Pune.

IITM, headquartered in Pune, is also working closely with the MoEFCC as well as with the central and various State Pollution Control Boards on the issue of Air Quality. It has augmented its System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), and developed India’s first air quality forecasting system with a capability of predicting air quality 3 days in advance for Pune as well as for Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai. These models take into account pollutant concentrations, local meteorological factors, as well as long range transport of pollutants and capable of predicting environmental emergencies and extreme pollution events for advance preparedness which is communicated by a mobile app “SAFAR-Air”.

IITM will be a key technical partner for the city of Pune, for its work on air quality management under SAFAR. Said Dr. Gufran Beig, Project Director, SAFAR and Senior Atmospheric Scientist at IITM, Pune, “Pune’s air quality, while much better than many other megacities in India, is fast deteriorating. The SAFAR forecasting system, along with IITM’s air quality monitoring data and air quality advisories and precaution will guide the PMC and its partners to address air quality management, and open important communication channels to address impact of air pollution.”

“Given the severity of India’s air pollution crisis, it is critical that cities such as Pune that have enjoyed relatively clean air quality in the past take critical and timely actions to control air pollution and develop institutional mechanisms to bolster its preparedness,” said Anjali Jaiswal, Senior Director of NRDC’s India Program. “Now is the time to ramp up actions and solutions on the ground to make a difference.”

Air pollution has serious health implications. More than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day globally, and the situation is even worse in developing and low-income countries. Air pollution take a high toll on overall prosperity of economies and is especially threatening for the health of vulnerable sections of the population, including people suffering from respiratory ailments. Preparing for and responding to health emergencies caused by air pollution is critical to saving lives around the globe and protecting communities. It is also important to note that efforts to curb air pollution is also helpful in combating global climate change.

“Air pollution is a complex challenge and we must engage with multiple stakeholders on this issue. We are happy to have the Pune Municipal Corporation on board with us, leading the way from the front to enhance inter-departmental cooperation and work towards the protection of people’s health by reducing their exposure to toxic pollutants,” said Dr. Dileep Mavalankar, Director of the IIPH-G.