Can you improve Delhi's air quality? Government offers Rs 2 crore prize for the best idea

Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) and the University of Chicago's Urban Labs on Tuesday launched a competition focused on improving air and water quality in the Capital by soliciting grassroots ideas from citizens, civic leaders, academics, corporations and other institutions across India.

The competition, titled Urban Labs Innovation Challenge: Delhi, will award up to Rs 2 crore in funding to the most promising solutions, said the DDC, an advisory body of the Delhi government, in a statement.

 Can you improve Delhis air quality? Government offers Rs 2 crore prize for the best idea

Smog enveloped government offices on Rajpath in New Delhi on Tuesday. AFP

Proposals should broadly confront the challenges that Delhi faces in energy reliability and efficiency and help reduce environmental hazards to public health and climate for residents of the National Capital, it added.

Welcoming the initiative, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "I am glad that DDC has entered into a first-of-its-kind agreement with University of Chicago to find novel solutions to tackle pollution and environment-related issues in Delhi. Through spirit of citizen participation, citizens and organisations will help Delhi government in finding lasting solutions for one of the biggest concerns in Delhi. In return, we will provide funding upto Rs 2 crore to the best ideas for scale up. I request citizens to enthusiastically participate in the competition."

The Urban Labs will work with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago's India Office (EPIC-India) and the Delhi government to pilot and test the winning projects that could then be scaled up across the region and become important models for other cities, the statement said.

Letters of Interest for the competition should be received by 1 March, 2016. To learn more about the challenge and submit an idea, the participants may visit urbanlabsdelhi.uchicago.in.

The competition is coming at a time when the Delhi government is facing criticism for its handling of pollution levels in the city. As the Capital spent another day blanketed in grey smog, the National Green Tribunal demanded authorities hold a crisis meeting to come up with a strategy to tackle the haze that has worsened across the city in recent days as winter cloud traps pollutants.

"What is the status of air pollution? All you can say is that there is no pollution... All stakeholders who are dealing with air pollution indicate that Delhi is highly polluting," the bench said in remarks directed at the city government.

A WHO study of 1,600 cities released in 2014 showed Delhi had the world's highest annual average concentration of PM2.5 particles, less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. PM2.5 particles are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease as they settle deep in the lungs and can pass into the bloodstream.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 03, 2015 15:51:10 IST