Enhancing Public-Private Partnership to REDUCE Air Pollution

The six action steps to mitigate the menace of air pollution

Planet Outlook
Rajiv Khurana - August 20, 2021
Enhancing Public-Private Partnership to REDUCE Air Pollution

Imagine we wake up to an India without air pollution! Hallucination you may say but it happened in the recent past when we all were locked up indoors during 2020. Nature’s fury could do something we could not imagine through our conferences, think-tanks and actions on paper. Air pollution killed 1.7 million Indians in 2019 and yet this report by Lancet failed to create a stir amongst the masses and classes to take positive affirmative actions. The death of Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl, made a UK Court take note of the fury of Air Pollution as the cause. We still need a major wake up and shake up across the world and especially in India.

Playing the blame game is a celebratory past-time of the lip warriors specializing in hair-splitting rationality. Solutions need to be created beyond the domain of pointed fingers at each other. The hands need to come together to reflect the resolve of an ever together partnership to reduce air pollution if the intent is serious and the content is powerful. Public-Private Partnership (PPP) could be a way forward as an approach that combines positive aspects of private and government sectors to develop a better public services delivery model where both parties share their knowledge and expertise to invest their resolve through budget, manpower and innovations.

How can PPP reduce Air Pollution? Let’s evolve six action steps from the word REDUCE to generate thoughts and actions.

R – Research

If we know 100% of a problem, we are close to its solution. India lags in measuring and monitoring air pollution. Real data and not the extrapolation of assumptions could lead us closer to realistic solutions. The will to share the bill of such installations across all districts is vital. Partnerships with multiple institutions for installation of IoT led devices, data mining with a specific understanding of local situations along with the commitment to convert the information into actionable knowledge could play a critical role. 

E – Enablement

The public in India largely adopted the covid appropriate behaviour because it affected them. We need to use this example. Celebrating the annual high air pollution festivities and then keeping quiet through the balance part of the year, reflects our myopia of actions. Massive education and awareness drive through conventional and social media, preparation of the youth, pushing public out of their unconscious comfortable inertia along with showing teeth of punitive actions should form the integrated solutions.

D – Doable Actions

Someone mentioned, “Whatever you say about India is true and the opposite is also true”. We need to grow beyond wordy duets amongst our classes and develop simple, understandable and affirmative actions amongst the masses. We need not be searching for perfection in our pursuit. It is important to start with workable solutions and gather momentum and ideas as we tread along the highway of execution.

U – Uniquely local

There cannot be one size that fits all. India is huge to come up with single or similar solutions. The danger of public health emergency due to air pollution could be of a varying degree from state to state. All probable actions must suit the local conditions in terms of cause and effect, partnerships, policy support, statutory compliances, institutional commitments and actions.

C – Consistency

Prolonged high fever cannot be treated with a single tablet of paracetamol. The prognosis and diagnosis must be followed by sustained treatment. Same way, we need to work on the ailment threatened by air pollution through our consistent efforts and this shall be very time consuming, frustrating and resource crunching in India. The world is full of examples of countries that could turn the tide of air pollution and make the areas of life and work more conducive for the citizens. Our consistently collaborative public-private resolve holds the key.

E – Evaluation

It is easy to execute on multiple measurable parameters provided enough introspective and corrective evaluations guide the way. The parameters need to be tougher and beyond easier reach that can propel the public and private partnership to grow beyond self-complementary lower achievements. Appropriate self-checks, demanding targets, facilitative support mechanism and course correction along with single-minded mission can only help achieve collective resolve.

“Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple,” this famous quote by C W Ceran, well known German Writer and Journalist, sums up the opportunity that lies in simplistic terms for the Public-Private Partnership to REDUCE Air Pollution. These thoughts have no meaning unless they churn into actions for impact. If we do not REDUCE now, then when? And how? Let us take charge today. Collectively!


Rajiv Khurana, Founder – Trustee, Lung Care Foundation