Member of Parliament (MPs) across different party lines got together in New Delhi on 5th December 2019 to discuss issues pertaining to India’s growing air pollution challenge. In this roundtable meeting, the group of MPs including Jairam Ramesh, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Forest (INC); Jagadambika Pal, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Urban Development (BJP); Ram Mohan Naidu (TDP), Dr Kakoli Ghosh (AITMC), Dr T Sumathy (DMK), K.J Alphons (BJP) among others agreed to establish a new, cross-party parliamentarian group for clean air.

The group also agreed to meet again to discuss a private member’s bill proposing amendments in the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 being tabled by MP Gaurav Gogoi (INC) in the parliament today.

The roundtable co-hosted by the office of Gaurav Gogoi, in partnership with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC India) was attended by more than 10 MPs as well as representatives from research groups, think tanks, non-profits, medical fraternity, and others. The roundtable facilitated discussions on the health impacts of air pollution, innovations in environmental regulations and ways to tackle air pollution through legal and regulatory reforms.

During the discussion, the parliamentarians unanimously agreed that the impact of air pollution on human health is a crisis not just for Delhi NCR but for the entire country and that it needs urgent and holistic action. Stressing on the need for a coalition between different bodies and collective efforts, this parliamentarian group for clean air has decided to meet regularly and discuss the way forward to solve India’s pollution puzzle.

The roundtable also facilitated a way for all these parliamentarians to privately convene again next week to discuss the private member’s bill tabled by Gaurav Gogoi today in Parliament. The amendment calls for establishing public health as a priority in abating pollution and realigning the law’s priorities towards protecting human health. Additionally, the Bill revamps the composition of the pollution control boards, empowers the Boards to levy bank guarantees as a means of environmental compensation, and provides procedures for ensuring robust coordination and interaction between the Central and State Boards, alongside other provisions.

Earlier, speaking at the Hindi AQLI launch event in New Delhi on 31st October, Gaurav Gogoi said, “I am working towards introducing a private member’s bill to come up with a new Clean Air (Amendment) Act where health impacts of air pollution is given the top priority. Its high time that we as policymakers use evidence-based data to formulate policies that clean up our skies and help our citizens live longer and healthier lives.”