Legal Levers for Cleaner Air in Kolkata: An Assessment of Local Legal Authority
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
24 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2020
Date Written: November 6, 2020
Air pollution leads to adverse health and environmental outcomes in India. Only 16% of the population lives in an area that meets India’s national air quality standards, and less than 1% lives in an area that meets World Health Organization guidelines for air quality. The state of West Bengal, wherein Kolkata is located, faces some of the highest exposures to air pollution in the country, making local interventions in Kolkata critical. This paper outlines measures that the city government—the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC)—could undertake to promote cleaner air in the city based on existing legal authority. The Government of West Bengal has significantly more authority than the KMC to regulate air pollution. Given the transboundary nature of air pollutant emissions, a nation-wide approach to improving air quality might also be most efficient. Given that the KMC has the authority to promote public health, construct and maintain roadways, manage solid waste, and educate the public, however, the city should use its authority to enact measures to reduce residents’ exposure to some of the highest levels of air pollution nation-wide. This report was produced as part of the Clean Air Toolkit initiative (CAT) at Columbia University, which aims to support cities in developing solutions for cleaner air.
Keywords: air pollution, local law, cities, India
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