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2019-01-11 | project

Clean Air Transitions in Indian Cities

Over the last decade, increasing domestic and international visibility of noxious urban air quality in Indian cities has led to several local and national policies to combat the problem. The goal of the project is to use air quality data from pollution monitoring stations in major cities and the timing of specific policy interventions to estimate the impact of these policies.

We are particularly interested in the following policies:

a) Mandated changes in fuel types and standards.

b) Driving restrictions for vehicles

c) The construction of arterial roads and new public transit lines

Since the beginning of 2016, the capital city of Delhi has experienced changes in all of these. The state government introduced the “Odd-Even Scheme” for two fortnights in January and April, 2016 respectively. During this time, private cars could only be used on alternative days of the week, determined by whether their number plate ended in an odd or even number. In the first half of 2018, a major arterial highway was opened which has allowed inter-city truck traffic to skirt the city instead of driving through it, new metro lines have come into use and new fuel standards have brought down the sulphur content of fuel from 50 ppm to 10 ppm.

Our empirical strategy would use a regression discontinuity design with air quality data from Delhi to examine air quality levels of pollutants before and after these policy changes. To control for daily and seasonal variations and check the robustness of our results, we will also additionally estimate difference-in-difference estimators using data for the same time periods for other major cities.

We anticipate that many of these new policies will be extended to other cities over the coming two years since there have been policy announcements to this effect. This will allow us to extend our analysis to these areas and also examine how impact is influenced by the nature of the urban space and baseline levels of air pollution.