Delhi: Contest seeks ideas from public for cleaner environment

The competition is focused on improving air and water quality in the capital by inviting innovative ideas from citizens, civic leaders, academics, corporations, and other institutions across India.

PTI| Last Updated: Dec 01, 2015, 19:45 PM IST

New Delhi: Looking to ensure clean environment in the national capital, Delhi government is inviting innovative solutions from people and institutions across India as part of a contest for which it has teamed up with a wing of the University of Chicago.

Even as the city's air quality continues to be classified as 'very poor' and extremely hazardous for inhalation as per the National Air Quality Index, the first-of-its-kind collaborative project was announced between the Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC) and the Chicago Urban Labs, a wing of the American university.

As part of the initiative, the government will award up to Rs 2 crore for funding the most promising solutions.

The competition is focused on improving air and water quality in the capital by inviting innovative ideas from citizens, civic leaders, academics, corporations, and other institutions across India.

Details on participation in the contest can be accessed at urbanlabsdelhi.Uchicago.In.

Speaking on the occasion, Ashish Khetan, Vice Chairman of DDC stressed on the need for changing the government's mindset of "holding back data" from the public.

"Whatever little data they (governments) generate is absolutely outdated, but they still don't want to share the data as if it's an atomic bomb formula," he said.

"Through this contest, I believe the people of Delhi would find answers to some of the big questions staring at us all. How to provide clean drinking water to the city of 20 million and growing population? We have already been rated the most- polluted city in the world," he said.

Chicago Urban Labs will work with the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago's India Office (EPIC- India) and 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.

Michael Greenstone, Director of EPIC and the Urban Lab's Energy and Environment Lab, said that the most promising solutions would be ones that give regulators more reliable and more frequent information on the sources of pollution.

"Right now, they have a very difficult task of trying to figure out where the pollution is... It is also imperative to make the enforcement of environmental regulations more efficient," he said.