The setting up of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) represents a significant milestone for air quality management in India. The Commission’s ability to perform its functions effectively and facilitate measures that will improve air quality in the NCR and adjoining areas for the long term will likely be impacted by several political, economic, technical, and social factors. In such a scenario, it is essential that the Commission enjoys sustained public trust as being non- partisan as well as a technically sound and socially sensitive body. The CAQM’s mandate is a statutory expression of the fundamental right of Indians to breathe air that is not harmful to their health. Its functioning should therefore reflect an inclusive and participative approach that allows citizens to claim and protect their right and prevent its encroachment when possible.
At the Initiative on Climate, Energy and Environment (ICEE) at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), we have been closely studying the functioning of various environmental regulators, and for the past four years have been working specifically in the area of air quality regulation and governance. Based on our research, we have identified five broad themes for the Commission to consider as it implements its statutory mandate: taking a holistic, long-term regional approach; tracking progress of NCAP implementation; ensuring transparency through proactive disclosure and timely reporting; developing enforcement protocols and grievance redressal mechanisms; and encouraging informed public consultation. We also suggest specific action points as illustrations under each of these themes.Publisher Page>