JICA Promoted Intensive Discussions on the Issue of Air Pollution: Effects and Challenges for Better Air
New Delhi: With the support of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), JICA Alumni Association of India (JAAI), an association of JICA training ex-participants, organized an international seminar in New Delhi on February 12, 2017, on the effects and challenges faced due to severe air pollution. The seminar focused on possible health effects from air pollution and introduced case studies, with hints and lessons learned, and counter measures which were derived from and taken in other countries through JICA’s assistance projects. Nearly one hundred participants, including attaches from the Embassy of Japan, proactively participated in the discussions about the possibility of future collaboration between Japan and India to tackle the current air pollution situation in Delhi.
The key speakers at the seminar included Dr. B.C. Sabat, Senior Scientific Officer, Department of Environment, Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi; Prof. (Dr.) Arvind Kumar, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital; Mr. Satoshi Watanabe, Deputy Director, Air Environment Division, Ministry of the Environment of Japan; Mr. Akira Nagamori, Head of R&D, Daikin Air-Conditioning India Pvt. Ltd. and Mr. Takema Sakamoto, Chief Representative, JICA India Office.
Prof. (Dr.) Arvind Kumar, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “Air pollution will affect not only people’s lungs but also every part of human body, from hair to toe nails.” Dr. Kumar added that living in Delhi may be the same as smoking 10 cigarettes per day and therefore, he alerts that lung diseases will be the biggest killer for the next two decades. More importantly, Dr. Kumar emphasized that mind-set change towards air pollution is substantially required and that each person must act now and make a contribution to mitigate air pollution before it is too late.
“We see this seminar as a great opportunity to collaborate between Japan and India. We need to ensure appropriate government policies and actual actions to ease air pollution. Japan will be happy to share required knowledge and its experiences to improve the environmental conditions in India,” said Mr. Satoshi Watanabe, Deputy Director, Air Environment Division, Ministry of the Environment of Japan.
Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Takema Sakamoto, Chief Representative, JICA India Office said, “JICA’s door is always open to explore further collaboration to reduce emissions of air pollutants from stationary, mobile and natural sources and to enhance energy efficiency and clean energy through various innovative projects.” Furthermore, Mr. Sakamoto underlined the effectiveness of modal shift from private transportation to mass transportation to mitigate air pollution by giving an example of Delhi Metro, which resulted in the reduction of vehicles on the street by about four lakh cars per day, the reduction of fuel consumption by about three lakh tons per year and the reduction of pollutants by about six lakh tons per year.
Mr. Sakamoto also introduced JICA’s experiences for easing air pollution in other countries, such as Mongolia, Thailand and China. Through those experiences, Mr. Sakamoto strongly recommended to take comprehensive approach with various stakeholders, including government, private sector, research institute and citizens, and additionally highlighted the importance of scientific analysis of the causes of air pollution as the essential first step to consider the appropriate measures. In closing, Mr. Sakamoto extremely emphasized not to forget about awareness raising activities such as environmental education.
JICA has immense experience for tackling air pollution issues in over 20 countries across the world. As for India, JICA has been contributing to ease the air pollution through its various projects and activities, such as promotion of modal shift, modernization of older and inefficient facilities, introduction of advanced technology and awareness improvement for citizens.