India | New report: Strengthening pollution control boards to meet air quality standards

The report, produced by Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC) and Health Care Without Harm, highlights the institutional and informational barriers that hamper the goal of achieving the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The findings reveal several key structural roadblocks that affect effective implementation of existing regulations, thereby broader achievement of ambient air quality standards.

Acute and chronic exposures to air pollution are leading risk factors for ill health in India, with exposures to Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and Ozone alone contributing to over 1.2 million premature deaths annually. The last three decades of rapid industrialization, increasing urbanization, growing transport fleet, and other factors have contributed to Indian cities becoming some of the most polluted in the world. Simultaneously, rural India is caught in the chulha trap, with over two-thirds of rural households depending primarily on polluting fuels such as wood, coal and dung to satisfy their cooking and heating needs.

As India continues to invest in industrialization with a view to economic growth and poverty alleviation, it is inevitable that air pollution levels will continue to grow as well unless significant actions are taken at a regulatory level.

Download the report

To establish minimum acceptable levels for ambient air quality, India set its NAAQS in line with interim targets suggested by the World Health Organization. Since most regions in India fail to meet the much relaxed national air quality standards compared to the more stringent global ones, the aim of the report was to understand the institutional and informational barriers that are hampering the goal of achieving the NAAQS across the country, and to provide recommendations to address them.

Based on interviews and literature reviews, the report sets a series of recommendations that interviewees see as the key challenges that need to be addressed to set India on a more sustainable development path. To address these recommendations, coupled with effective and coordinated policymaking and accountability will ensure that future generations will not have to deal with the persistent threat of ambient air pollution.

Primary research for this study was conducted in a selected sample cities in states across the country: Lucknow, Patna, Ranchi, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Vijayawada, Goa and Mumbai.

Download the report


  • Vidushi Bahuguna: Senior Research Associate & Program Coordinator (Policy), Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC)
  • Bhargav Krishna: Manager (Technical), Centre for Environmental Health (CEH), Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
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