Skip to main content

Kolkata’s Air Quality : Navigating Solutions

Kolkata’s Air Quality : Navigating Solutions
Workshop and Roundtable organised by The U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, in partnership with banglanatak dot com

The air quality in Kolkata has been a cause for concern for a long time now. The discussion on the causes, effects and the creation of actionable plans to arrest further deterioration, too, has been an ongoing process in which all the concerned stakeholders – citizens, corporate houses, social organisations, media and policy planners participate to chalk the way forward. It was in this backdrop that a workshop was organised on September 15, 2016, by the U.S. Consulate General Kolkata, in partnership with banglanatak dot com, a social enterprise specializing in communication for development and the Global Change Program at Jadavpur University to create a platform for discussing the possible solutions to address the air quality challenges of the city.

The workshop was attended by representatives from British Deputy High Commission, Consulate of the Netherlands, Department of Environment  GoWB, Department of Urban Development and Town Planning GoWB, CPCB, Jadavpur University, NEERI, IISWBM, CESC, Coal India Limited, Symbio Greentech Pvt. Limited, Centre for Environment Education, NEWS, Concern for Kolkata, Association for Social and Environmental Department- Calcutta Medical College, ASSOCHAM, FICCI, Yes Bank, TOI, ABP, The Telegraph, Hindustan Times, Ei Samay among others.

Seeking to identify the root cause of the problem, participants deliberated on issues like the air quality indicators and the causes behind the bad air quality bin Kolkata; necessary steps to improve the quality of air before moving on to identify the entities who can take the rectifying measures.

The deliberations led to the creation of a detailed matrix on actions to be undertaken and the identification of individuals, institutions and organisations that can and should take the required steps. The most interesting aspect of this process was the use logic of rights and responsibilities by the participants who also took the next logical step of identifying the key constituents who can help bring about the desired change on both their individual levels as collectively. The discourse was extended to the end which saw the setting up of a five year time period to restore the air quality of the city. 

ROUND TABLE ON VISION FOR STRATEGIC IMPLEMENTATION

The key observations of the workshop was presented in a Round Table on Saturday, September 24, 2016. The objective of the exercise was to further codify the divergent thoughts and arrive at a definitive action plan. Representatives from Department of Urban Development GoWB, WBHDCL, Department of Health and Family Welfare GoWB, Department of Power and Non-Conventional Energy Sources GoWB, Department of Environment, GoWB, IPHE, CPCB, NEERI, Jadavpur University, CESC, Symbio Greentech Pvt. Ltd, WWF, SAFE, The Green Bench, ICC, TOI, PTI, ABP, Hindustan Times, Asian Age etc were present in the round table.

Representatives from the Governmental departments talked about the various schemes aimed at improving the quality of air that are at different levels of implementation. They also dwelled upon the future course of action as has been earmarked by the concerned authorities. Participants were also vocal, not only about the need to put a cap on carbon emissions, but also underscored the need to move towards sustainable lifestyles that would include among others, the increasing of the green cover and the greater use of non-conventional energies. Creation of awareness, especially though the use of emerging media was also identified as a part of the solution.
The Round Table closed with commitment by the participants to continue the dialogue. It was decided that a monthly meeting will be hosted and at least five organisations volunteered to take matters forward. 

KOLKATA’S AIR QUALITY NAVIGATING SOLUTIONS WORKSHOP


Kolkata’s Road Map to Clean Air:
There is no magic button by pressing which the quality of the air we breathe can be improved overnight. On the contrary, what is needed is sustained and multiple-pronged effort by all the stakeholders over a period of time, was the feeling of the workshop. Accordingly, an inclusive, though not comprehensive, road map was drawn up that sought to crystallize the action points and assign the responsibilities:
Lifestyle changes – use of biomass stoves, bio-fuel / electricity powered vehicles – to be adopted by families, small businesses using stoves, kilns etc.
Increasing green cover, including but not restricted to the plating of more trees – to be spearheaded by Individuals, Housing Societies, Municipality, KMC, KMDA and other concerned citizens / bodies.
Regulation on use of vehicle and fuel to ensure reduced carbon footprints – to be taken up by the Transport Department, Transport Corporation, Manufacturers and other statutory bodies.
Improvement of Polluted Canals - to be taken up by the Irrigation and Waterways Department.
Improvement of Construction Processes to make a concerted move towards Green Buildings – to be embraced by the PWD, WBHDCL, KMC, KMDA, Construction sector.
Increase Awareness & Advocacy, especially among the youth - to be taken up as a cause by the Education, Health & Environment Department, Schools, NGOs, CSOs, Media.
Data,( including Big Data and Analytics) and Knowledge dissemination – to be facilitated by the Pollution Control Board, NEERI, Research and Academic Institutions.
Proper implementation of laws & regulations – to be ensured by the Pollution Control Boards, Relevant Departments, KMC and the Judiciary.

What is already being done to ensure better air quality:
  •         Green City Mission is covering 127 cities and towns of West Bengal and targets addressing use of appropriate technology, improving walk-ability, promoting innovation, plantation of trees and being energy positive.
  •          “Sobujshree” encouraging planting a tree by family when a child is born
  •          Demonstration site on using waste compost and rain water harvesting for rooftop urban farming
  •          Study for understanding optimal car concentration, source appropriation
  •          Building green highways
  •          Pollution monitoring sites by CPCB
  •          Introduction of waste segregation in New Town and Salt Lake area
  •          Improved soli management in Kolkata and 6 municipalities
  •          Power generation from municipal solid waste, kitchen waste
  •          Alosree scheme for grid based rooftop solar panels
  •          Initiation of project to understand opportunities, options and capacities for electric vehicles  
  •          Solar Grid connections to institutional consumers with an intake of more than 5 KWs, subsidy for use of solar power by social Institutions.
  •          Green capping at Dhapa
  •          Spreading of awareness  in urban slums to address lung problems





Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Countdown begins for Sur Jahan 2018

Sur Jahan (literally meaning Music World) is a unique world peace music festival of India held in Kolkata and Goa every February with the motto “Music for Peace, Music for All”. The three-day event brings together artists and musicians from home and abroad to celebrate cultural diversity through world music and facilitate exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences with the explicit aim to bridge minds and spread the culture of knowledge, understanding and tolerance. Starting its journey as Sufi Sutra in Kolkata in 2011, it was renamed in 2017 to better reflect the wide range of music genres it curates. Artists from 26 countries and 12 Indian states have participated in the festival till date. Sur Jahan simultaneously showcases creations and performances of India’s rural artists and crafts persons. In doing so, it rekindles our people’s urge to revisit and take pride in their own folk cultural heritage. The array of rich and living traditions of performing folk arts on offer, right fro…

Swayangsiddha: Rallying youths to stop human trafficking & child marriage

In an era of fast forgotten news, the headline flew past in a flicker indeed, but it did leave behind a rare trail of courage and inspiration for thousands of girls, if not more, in West Bengal! Meena, a teenager from a non-descript village in the district of South 24 Parganas, was tricked and abducted by a woman she knew through one of her classmates and neighbour. Only days before, Meena, a Class 10 student, was lucky to have attended a session of Swayangsiddha – the awareness drive underway against human trafficking organized by the district police chief at her school. Memories came rushing back and she understood that she would be sold to ‘customers’ waiting in cities like New Delhi or Mumbai, if not any other faraway land. But Meena decided not to give in and realized that keeping her cool was the topmost priority at the moment. As her abductor and her associates tried to figure out her reaction and response at the shelter where she was kept at in Baruipur, a bustling town in he…

Entrepreneurship as a Social Movement: Real Life Success Stories

In January 2018, we launched a long-term initiative to give a concerted push to entrepreneurship, including innovative ones, by sharing our knowledge and experience acquired over 17 years as a social enterprise. To begin with, we invited eminent thought leaders and industry experts who shared their experiences with our home-grown young, aspiring entrepreneurs. This ‘International Seminar on Entrepreneurship as a Social Movement: Creating Cultural, Social and Economic Value’ was organized on 5 and 6 January in Kolkata, in partnership with the British Council and the Essex Business School, University of Essex, U.K.The narratives at the conclave veered from personal journeys of Indian entrepreneurs to stories from countries as far as Argentina. The deliberations focused on how skills and innovation, supported by a pragmatic and sensitive socio-economic eco-system, can usher in holistic changes in the development paradigm.At the seminar, we also showcased real life success stories of creat…