Greenpeace: Urgent, Nation-Wide, Systemic Solutions Needed for Pollution Crisis Response

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Press release - November 7, 2016
As the Delhi government announced emergency measures to help citizens cope with the public health crisis of hazardous air pollution levels, Greenpeace reiterated the central demands of its ‘Clean Air Nation’ campaign.

The central demands [1] of its ‘Clean Air Nation’ campaign:

  • A stronger National Air Quality Index (NAQI) including health advisories and alert system for closure of polluting sources and industries to be triggered automatically

  • Comprehensive and systematic National Clean Air action plan including all the sources of pollution i.e., Biomass burning, Industry, thermal power plants, transports, construction and demolition activities and fugitive dust emissions etc.

  • Coordinated efforts between central and state governments

  • Set targets for reducing interstate pollution, including a compliance plan for meeting the new thermal power plant emission standards

  • A set deadline for meeting the national air quality standards e.g. 5-year interim targets for reducing pollution levels in each state and city that doesn't currently comply

“The measures announced by the Delhi government may bring some relief to some citizens, but this is frankly too little too late, and fails to address the problem in its entirety,” said Sunil Dahiya, Greenpeace India campaigner, “Over the last 18 months, thousands of Greenpeace supporters have joined us in calling for a national action plan, and for infrastructure improvements. For instance, an effective NAQI would automatically trigger the issuing of a health advisory and the resultant closure of schools and offices etc., instead of these measures only being announced after a series of consultations and cabinet meetings. Even now, the problem is really only being discussed in post-Diwali Delhi terms; the levels may have peaked this week, but they have been consistently high for months now. And although shutting down the Badarpur Thermal Power Plant is a welcome first move, how about applying the same logic to the other plants, and the pollution affecting the rest of the Indo-Gangetic Plain region?”

Greenpeace India has previously released graphs and satellite imagery revealing how clearly pollution hotspots are mapped to thermal power plants all across the Indo-Gangetic plain, and a status assessment of the NAQI (2) that illustrated a simple fact: Tackling India’s air pollution crisis and ensuring the right to clean air for all Indians requires an ambitious and systematic national action plan with targets and timelines, as well as measures to reduce air pollution emissions from all key polluting sectors, including power generation, industry, transport and agriculture.

“Air pollution has become an issue of life and death for our people. It is a matter of survival, each one of us needs to stand up and take a role. Pollution has to be the priority issue for all governments - polluted air does not recognise political boundaries of states and cities you live on, so neither must our efforts to clean it up,” added Umendra Dutt of Kheti Virasat Manch. “We need a comprehensive action plan to clean up the air across all our states: be it Haryana, Punjab or Bihar. Indeed, even the plan to clean up the air in the region can only really work if it includes action taken in all states.”

  1. See Recommendations made on page 29 of the Greenpeace report ‘Out of Sight’:
  2. See Greenpeace NAQI Status Assessment:
Contact for more information:
Sunil Dahiya :
Phone: +91 9013673250
Avinash Kumar:
Phone: +91 8882153664