Open Journal Systems

Indian megacities as localities of environmental vulnerability from air quality perspective

Bhola R. Gurjar, Ajay S. Nagpure

Article ID: 01.003.
Vol 1, Issue 1, 2016, Article identifier:

VIEWS - 508 (Abstract) 610 (PDF)


Large proportions of the Indian population live in megacities (e.g., Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata), which are vibrant centers of economic opportunities and offering better quality of social life. Due to increasing migration to these cities, Indian megacities are constantly expanding, which subsequently leads to strain on the environment with a range of impacts at local, regional and global levels. During the last few decades the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other air pollutants have increased substantially, resulting in worsening ambient air quality of these cities. With respect to time span the concern over air pollutants has also changed in Indian megacities. Concern over particulate matter, black carbon, NOx and ozone has heightened recently due to their local and regional impacts on air quality and environmental (including public) health and also because they contribute to global climate change. Although authorities have implemented several measures to reduce air pollution and its impacts in Indian megacities, much more is yet to be done to improve their ambient air quality. This paper focuses on major air pollution and GHGs emission issues in Indian megacities and associated problems within the framework of their role in environmental vulnerability.


emission inventory; human health; Kolkata; Delhi; Mumbai; air pollution

Full Text:


Included Database


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2002, World agriculture: towards 2015/2030, viewed February 28, 2012,

United Nations (UN), Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, 2006, World urbanization prospects: the 2005 revision, viewed May 4, 2015,

Government of India, 2001, Census of India, viewed February 20, 2012,

Government of India, 2011, Census of India, viewed February 20, 2012,

Nagdeve D, 2009, Air pollution in mega cities of India, viewed May 11, 2012,

Streets D G, Carmichael G R, Amann M, et al. 1999, Energy consumption and acid deposition in Northeast Asia. Ambio, vol.28(2): 135–143.

Garg A, Shukla P R, Bhattacharya S, et al. 2001, Sub-region (district) and sectoral level SO2 and NOx emission in India: Assessment of inventories and mitigation flexibility. Atmospheric Environment, vol.35(4): 703–713.

Gadhok T K, 2000, Risks in Delhi: Environmental concerns, GeospatialWorld, viewed February 12, 2011,

Gurjar B R, van Aardenne J A, Lelieveld J, et al. 2004, Emission estimates and trends (1990–2000) for megacity Delhi and implications. Atmospheric Environment, vol.38(33): 5663–5681.

Reddy M S and Venkataraman C, 2002, Inventory of aerosol and sulphur dioxide emissions from India: I-Fossil fuel combustion. Atmospheric Environment, vol.36(4): 677–697.

Garg A, Kapshea M, Shuklaa P R, et al. 2002, Large point source (LPS) emissions from India: Regional and sectoral analysis. Atmospheric Environment, vol.36(4): 213–224.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2010, Cities of opportunity: A look at the world’s hubs of finance and commerce, viewed May 5, 2015,

Larssen S, Gram F, Hagen L O, et al. 1997, Urban Air Quality Management in Asia, Greater Mumbai Report, viewed May 5, 2015,

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), 2004, Particulate matter reduction action plan for Greater Mumbai region, Nagpur.

Bhanarkar A D, Rao P S, Gajghate D G, et al. 2005, Inventory of SO2, PM and toxic metals emissions from industrial sources in Greater Mumbai, India. Atmospheric Environment, vol.39(21): 3851–3864.

Ghose M K, Paulb R, and Banerjee S K, 2004, Assessment of the impacts of vehicular emissions on urban air quality and its management in Indian context: The case of Kolkata (Calcutta). Environmental Science & Policy, vol.7(4): 345–351.

Mukherjee A, and Mukherjee G, 1998, Occupational exposure of the traffic personnel of Calcutta to lead and carbon monoxide. Pollution Research, vol.17(4): 359–362.

Shukla S K, Nagpure A S, Sharma R, et al. 2013, Assessment of environmental profile in the vicinity of Indian cement industry. International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management (IJETM), vol.16(4): 326–342.

Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), 2003, The budgets of GHGs, urban air pollutants and their future emission scenarios in selected mega- cities in Asia (APN 2002–04), viewed November 7, 2012,

Center for Science and Environment, 2006, Managing Air Quality, viewed February 12, 2010,

Kumar P, Gurjar B R, Nagpure A S, et al. 2011, Preliminary estimates of nanoparticle number emissions from road vehicles in megacity Delhi and associated health impacts. Environmental Science & Technology, vol.45(13): 5514–5521.

Kumar S S, Nagpure A S, Kumar V, et al. 2008, Impact of dust emission on plant vegetation in the vicinity of cement plant. Environmental Engineering and Management Journal, vol.7(1): 31–35.

Rai R, Rajput M, Agrawal M, et al. 2011, Gaseous air pollutants: A review on current and future trends of emissions and impact on agriculture. Journal of Scientific Research, vol.55: 77–102.

Prasad A K, Singh R P, and Kafatos M, 2006, Influence of coal-based thermal power plants on aerosol optical properties in the Indo-Gangetic Basin. Geophysical Research Letters, vol.33(5): L05805.

Guttikunda S, Calori G, Velay-Lasry F, et al. 2011, Air quality forecasting system for cities: Modeling architecture for Delhi, simple interactive models for better air quality. SIM-Air Working Paper Series, viewed May 6, 2015,

Government of Delhi, Department of Environment, 2010, Executive summary of inventorization of green house gases—sources and sinks in Delhi, viewed Feb-ruary 12, 2011,

Ramachandra T V, Shwetmala, 2009, Emissions from India’s transport sector: Statewise synthesis. Atmospheric Environment, vol.43(34): 5510–5517.

Central Pollution Control Board, 2010, Status of the vehicular pollution control programme in India, viewed April 28, 2012,

Guttikunda S K, Carmichael G R, Calori G, et al. 2003, The contribution of megacities to regional sulfur pollution in Asia. Atmospheric Environment, vol.37(1): 11–22.

West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB), 2006, Green Governance Newsletter, viewed May 3, 2012,

Asian Development Bank, 2005, Final report volume V: Air quality management, viewed March 10, 2012,

United States Agency for International Development ASIA (USAID ASIA), 2010, Black carbon emissions in Asia: Sources, impacts, and abatement opportunities executive summary, viewed May 7, 2012,

Ezzati M, Hoorn S V, Lopez A D, et al. 2006, Comparative quantification of mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected risk factors, in Global Burden of Disease and Risk Factors,Washington (DC), 241–396.

Venkataraman C, Habib G, Eiguren-Fernandez A, et al. 2005, Residential biofuels in South Asia: Carbonaceous aerosol emissions and climate impacts. Science, vol.307 (5714): 1454–1456.

Beig G, 2011, Emission inventory: major issues, problem and recent development in South Asia. Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, viewed May 1, 2012,

Kant Y, Patel P, Mishra A K, et al. 2012, Diurnal and seasonal aerosol optical depth and black carbon in the Shiwalik Hills of the north western Himalayas: A case study of the Doon valley, India. International Journal of Geology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, vol. 2(2): 173–192.

Bano T, Singh S, Gupta N C, et al. 2011, Variation in aerosol black carbon concentration and its emission estimates at the megacity Delhi. International Journal of Remote Sensing, vol.32(21): 6749–6764. 10.1080/01431161.2010.512943.

Horvath H, 1993, Atmospheric light absorption—a re-view. Atmospheric Environment, vol.27(3): 293–317.

Jacobson M Z, 2001, Strong radiative heating due to the mixing state of black carbon in atmospheric aerosols.Nature, vol.409: 695–697.

Mitra A P, Sharma C, and Ajero M A Y, 2003, Energy and emissions in South Asian mega-cities: Study on Kolkata, Delhi and Manila. Proceedings of International Workshop on Policy Integration Towards Sustainable Urban Energy Use for Cities in Asia, East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii, 4–5 February, 2003, Hono-lulu.

Sahu S K, Beig G and Sharma C, 2008, Decadal growth of black carbon emissions in India. Geophysical Research Letters, vol.35(2): L02807.

Gadgill S, 1995, Climate change and agriculture—an Indian perspective. Current Science, vol.69(8): 649–659.

Zhu Y and Houghton D D, 1996, The impact of Indian Ocean SST on the large-scale Asian summer monsoon and the hydrological cycle. International Journal of Climatology, vol.16(6): 617–632.<617::AID-JOC32>3.0.CO;2-I.

Lal M, Srinivasan G and Cubasch U, 1996, Implications of increasing greenhouse gases and aerosols on the diurnal temperature cycle of the Indian subcontinent. Current Science, vol.71(10): 746–752.

Lal M, Singh K K, Rathor L S, et al. 1996, Vulnerability of rice and wheat yields in Northwest India to future changes in climate. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, vol.89(2): 101–114.

Menon S, Hansen J, Nazarenko L, et al. 2002, Climate effects of black carbon aerosols in China and India. Science, vol.297(5590): 2250–2253. 10.1126/science.1075159.

Nair K S, 2009, An assessment of the impact of climate change on the megacities of India and of the current policies and strategies to meet associated challenges, viewed May 10, 2012,

De Sherbinin A, Schiller A and Pulsipher A, 2009, The vulnerability of global cities to climate hazards. Environment and Urbanization, vol.19(1): 39–64. 10.1177/0956247807076725.

Panda A, 2011, Unleashing urbanization, climate change risks & adaptation: Indian mega cities. The Indian Economy Review, viewed May 3, 2012,

Varotsos C A, Chronopoulos G J, Katsikis S, et al. 1995, Further evidence of the role of air pollution on solar ultraviolet radiation reaching the ground. International Journal of Remote Sensing, vol.16(10): 1883–1886. 10.1080/01431169508954525.

Bhattacharya S, Sharma C, Dhiman R C, et al. 2006, Climate change and malaria in India. Current Science, vol.90(3): 369–375.

Goldsmith J R and Nadel J A, 1969, Experimental exposure of human subjects to ozone. Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association (JAPCA), vol.19(5): 329–330.

Bates D V, Bell G M, Burnham C D, et al. 1972, Short-term effects of ozone on the lung. Journal of Applied Physiology, vol.32(2): 176–181.

Mustafa M G and Lee S D, 1976, Pulmonary biochemical alterations resulting from ozone exposure. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, vol.19(1): 17–26.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 1979, Photochemical Oxidants and their Precursors in the Atmosphere, OECD, Paris.

Heck W W, Adams R M, Cure W W, et al. 1983, A re-assessment of crop loss from ozone. Environmental Science Technology, vol.17(12): 572A–581A.

Reich P B and Amundson R G, 1985, Ambient levels of ozone reduce net photosynthesis in tree and crop species. Science, vol.230(4725): 566–570.

Guttikunda S, 2009, Photochemistry of air pollution in Delhi, India: A monitoring based analysis, simple interactive models for better air quality, SIM-Air Work-ing Paper Series 25, viewed May 5, 2015,

Singh A, Sarin S M, Shanmugam P, et al. 1997, Ozone distribution in the urban environment of Delhi during winter months. Atmospheric Environment, vol.31(20): 3421–3427.

Jain S L, Arya B C, Kumar A, et al. 2005, Observational study of surface ozone at New Delhi, India. International Journal of Remote Sensing, vol.26(16): 3515–3524.

Purkait N N, De S, Sen S, et al. 2009, Surface ozone and its precursors at two sites in the Northeast Coast of India. Indian Journal of Radio & Space Physics, vol.38: 86–97.

Mittal M L, and Sharma C, 2001, Transport of Air Pollutants over the Indian Region, Ohio Supercomputer Centre (OSC), Program for Computational Reactive Mechanics (PCRM), viewed May 11, 2012,

Khopade P, 2009, Atmospheric Brown Clouds (ABCs), Envis Newsletter, Mumbai: ENVIS Centre, Environment Department, Government of Maharashtra, viewed May 11, 2012,

Guazzotti S A, Coffee K R and K A Prather, 2001, Continuous measurements of size-resolved particle chemistry during INDOEX-Intensive Field Phase 99. Journal of Geophysical Research, vol.106(D22): 28607–28628.

Ramanathan V, 2007, Role of black carbon in global and regional climate changes, viewed May 8, 2015,

Ramanathan V, Rodhe H, Agrawal M, et al. 2008, Atmospheric brown clouds: Regional assessment report with focus on Asia, viewed May 5, 2012,

Ramanathan V, Chung C and Kim D, et al. 2005, At-mospheric brown clouds: Impacts on South Asian cli-mate and hydrological cycle. Proceedings of the Na-tional Academy of Science of the United States of America, vol.102(15): 5326–5333.

Chhabra S K, Chhabra P, Rajpal S, et al. 2001, Ambient air pollution and chronic respiratory morbidity in Delhi. Archives of Environmental Health, vol.56(1): 58–64.

Cropper M L, Simon N B, Alberini A, et al. 1997, The health effects of air pollution in Delhi, India, World Bank eLibrary,

Joshi T K, 1997, A Health Survey to Determine the Adverse Health Impact of Pollution in Delhi, New Delhi: Centre for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (MAMC).

Pachauri R K, Sridharan P V, (eds) 1998, Looking Back to Think Ahead: Growth with Resource Enhancement of Environment and Nature, Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi.

Gurjar B R, Jain A, Sharma A, et al. 2010, Human health risks in megacities due to air pollution. Atmospheric Environment, vol.44(36): 4606–4613. 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2010.08.011.

Nagpure A S and Gurjar B R, 2014, Urban traffic emissions and associated environmental impacts in India, in Novel Combustion Concepts for Sustainable Energy Development, Springer India, New Delhi, 405–414.

Karar K and Gupta A K, 2007, Source apportionment of PM10 at residential and industrial sites of an urban region of Kolkata, India. Atmospheric Research, vol.84(1): 30–41.

Kazimuddin A and Banerjee LM, 2000, Fighting for air. Down to Earth Magazine.

Nagpure A K, Gurjar B R, Sahni N, et al. 2010, Pollutant emissions from road vehicles in megacity Kolkata, India: Past and present trends. Indian Journal of Air Pollution Control, vol.10(2): 18–30.

Nagpure A S, Gurjar B R and Prashant K, 2011, Impact of altitude on emission rates of ozone precursors from gasoline-driven light-duty commercial vehicles. Atmospheric Environment, vol.45(7): 1413–1417.

Nagpure A S, 2011, Modeling of urban traffic emissions, PhD dissertation, Centre for Transportation Systems (CTRANS) & Department of Paper Technology, Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, viewed May 15, 2012.

Nagpure A S, Sharma Ketki and Gurjar B R, 2013, Traffic induced emission estimates and trends (2000- 2005) in megacity Delhi. Urban Climate, vol.4: 61–73. http//

Nagpure A S and Gurjar B R, 2012, Development and evaluation of vehicular air pollution inventory model. Atmospheric Environment, vol.59: 160–169.

Ramanathan V and Ramana M V, 2003, Atmospheric brown clouds: Long range transport and climate impacts. EM, vol.December: 28–33.

Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India, 2008, Epidemiological study on effect of air pollution on human health (adults) in Delhi, viewed March 5, 2012,

World Bank, 2002, What do we know about air pollu-tion?—India case study. South Asia urban air quality management briefing note; no. 84. Washington, DC: World Bank, viewed May 3, 2012,

Garg A, 2011, Pro-equity effects of ancillary benefits of climate change policies: A case study of human health impacts of outdoor air pollution in New Delhi. WorldDevelopment, vol.39(6): 1002–1025.

World Wildlife Fund, 2009, Mega-stress for mega-cities: A climate vulnerability ranking of major coastal cities in Asia, viewed May 3, 2012,

Dembowski H, 2001, Environment and politics in India, in Taking the State to Court: Public Interest Litigation and the Public Sphere in Metropolitan India, viewed May 12, 2012,

Sahu G A, 2007, Environmental governance and role of judiciary in India. PhD thesis, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, viewed June 7, 2012,

Department of Environment, Government of NCT of Delhi, and Delhi Pollution Control Committee, 2005, A case study of Delhi, viewed May 12, 2012,

Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India, 2006, Air quality trends and action plan for control of air pollution from seventeen cities, viewed April 24, 2010,

Mukherjee A, Dey T K and Bhattacharyya A K, 1982, Cardiac pathology in classical and marsmic kwashior-kor. Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology, vol.25(3): 207–212.

Nagpure A S, Gurjar B R and Martel J C, 2014, Human health risks in national capital territory of Delhi due to air pollution. Atmospheric Pollution Research, vol.5: 371–380.

Gurjar B R, Nagpure A S and Kumar P, 2015, Gaseous emissions from agricultural activities and wetlands in national capital territory of Delhi. Ecological Engi-neering, vol.75: 123–127.

Babaee S, Nagpure A S and DeCarolis J F, 2014, How much do electric drive vehicles matter to future U.S. emissions? Environmental Science and Technology, vol.48(3): 1382–1390.

(508 Abstract Views, 610 PDF Downloads)


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2016 Bhola R. Gurjar, Ajay S. Nagpure

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.


Journal of Smart Cities is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal. All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.