Air pollution is affected by weather, terrain, and land-use patterns, because of this various Indian state governments are exploring for an innovative approach to address the situation, with several seeking to implement airshed management.
According to the World Bank, an airshed is a shared geographic region where pollutants are contained, resulting in identical air quality for everyone.
A 2019 research indicated that almost half of the population-weighted PM2.5 in Delhi originates from outside the region, with 50% coming from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. In Punjab, around 60% of PM2.5 does not originate in the state, with approximately half originating from outside India and the other half from neighboring Indian states. Only half of the PM2.5 in Uttar Pradesh originates within the state. Uttar Pradesh is the first to adopt an airshed action plan.
The whole idea is that, within an airshed, the overall patterns of air quality from season to season are similar over the long term. There are nine to 11 airsheds in India. Some, like the Indo-Gangetic plain airshed, within which lie two or more regional airsheds, are gigantic.
The World Bank is now working on the country’s first large-scale Airshed Action Plan for the Indo-Gangetic plain, which will span seven union territories and states. The Indo-Gangetic plain is one of the country’s most polluted areas, accounting for 46% of premature fatalities.
The World Bank is assisting a team of Indian specialists who have used many globally accepted models, such as Greenhouse Gas – Air Pollution Interactions and Synergies in Europe, North America, and China. This model is used to evaluate methods that tackle both air pollution and climate change.
The government must decide how the technical model is finally translated into airsheds for management reasons. India has yet to define airsheds, and the process is currently being debated but for it to work enforcement has to be taken seriously. Fines must be commensurate with the violation, and public health must be addressed as soon as possible.
Reference- World Bank Report, Third Pole story, Down To Earth, Science Direct, Springer, National Geographic