Delhi’s air pollution has grabbed international headlines. The Government of Delhi is seeking solutions. To this end, GNTCD has established a program management unit with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC India) to coordinate numerous actions to improve air quality and incorporate an evidence-based approach to guide policy decisions.

The programme management unit, which was established in July 2021, is working on several important initiatives. Such initiatives include – the development of a ‘clean air action plan’ for the national capital territory of Delhi, monitoring Delhi’s source apportionment of air pollution study, air pollution hotspot management, establishing a ‘Green War Room’, promoting widespread use of the mobile phone-based ‘green Delhi app’, and plastic and e-waste management initiatives.

Earlier, during the launch of the 10-point Winter Action Plan for Delhi in 2021, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal endorsed the partnership with EPIC India and its partners. He said, “We are creating a PMU with the University of Chicago and GDi Partners to strengthen the Green War Room.” Environment Minister Gopal Rai also spoke of a stronger Green War Room with this collaboration and how the PMU would help implement the winter action plan in the city.

Reena Gupta, advisor to the Environment Minister, talking about the association, said, “It is our government’s endeavor to partner with those who set global benchmarks. By collaborating with the academicians and experts from EPIC India, initiatives to enhance Delhi’s air quality can be greatly improved.”

This partnership between policymakers and academicians is not just augmenting the implementation of the air quality programs of the Environment Department but also underscores the uniqueness of implementing evidence-based strategies to answer critical policy questions dotting the air quality of India’s national capital.

Talking about this critical partnership, Dr Anant Sudarshan, South Asia Director of EPIC, said, “We are enthusiastic about the prospect of working with the Government of Delhi. From our experience of partnering with the state governments in India and advancing evidence-based policies, we are positive that the collective knowledge of this partnership will provide momentum to the Delhi Government’s clean air plans.”

A central focus of the PMU is the design and implementation of the clean air plan. And this involves formulating interventions and policy recommendations toward reducing pollution contributors in the NCT of Delhi, with focused initiatives on limiting vehicular pollution, road and construction dust generation, and prevention of biomass and landfill burning. Some other initiatives of the PMU include working on a critical citizen engagement initiative called the “Yudh Pradushan Ke Viruddh” campaign, launched by the Chief Minister on Oct 4th, 2021. The campaign lays out a 10-point action plan ranging from measures to control dust and mitigate hotspots to a mobile application for registering citizen complaints and monitoring the raised issues in combating winter pollution in the NCT of Delhi. Over the last year, PMU has also supported the Environment Department in monitoring the source apportionment study commissioned for the NCT of Delhi.

EPIC India’s prior experience conducting empirical research and designing pilots with different state governments has given the PMU a unique understanding of combining rigorous research protocols with program implementation. One of the supporting initiatives of the PMU, therefore, also includes building capacity amongst concerned stakeholders within the department by conducting rigorous technical training and orientation.

Adding further, Reena Gupta said, “The success we demonstrate from this association will be a step closer to a cleaner and healthier Delhi. I am confident that the resulting policies will bring meaningful and lasting improvements to the citizens of Delhi.”