Polash Mukerjee
Lead - Air Quality and Health

Polash Mukerjee leads NRDC's work on air quality in India. His expertise is in developing emission reduction roadmaps, as well as financial and regulatory environmental health governance tools, clean fuel and vehicular technologies, and assessing air pollution sources. He is also involved in strategic work on clean mobility, international climate policy as well as communications for the India team. He is a researcher and policy advocacy professional with over 8 years of experience in environmental health and air quality management. He works closely with a diverse set of stakeholders spanning state, civil society, and private sector actors at the national, regional and city level to improve environmental governance on air quality and extreme heat.

Polash began his career at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi, where he worked closely with the EPCA, a statutory environmental governance body. He has a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in India. He is based out of NRDC's Delhi office.

Related Publications

Coordinating Actions to Counter India’s Air Pollution Crisis

November 07, 2022

India continues to suffer from some of the worst air pollution levels in the world and reducing its heavy toll is critical for securing country’s long-term health and prosperity. According to Indian scientist, outdoor air pollution, largely a byproduct of burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), was responsible for nearly one million early deaths across the country in 2019.

Building Capacity to Address India’s Air Pollution Challenge

September 19, 2022

Air pollution in India is a national challenge: 94 percent of the country’s population is exposed to very poor air quality, and the country has witnessed one of the most dramatic rises in pollution over the last twenty years with its rapid industrialization and continuing reliance on polluting fossil fuels. Of the top twenty cities in the world where pollution has worsened the most dramatically from 2010 to 2019, 18 are in India.

New Health Report Urges Air Pollution Reduction in India

June 07, 2022

Millions of people across northern and central India are struggling with extreme heat as temperatures approach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). The dangerous heat is affecting the country’s agriculture, energy security, and economic prosperity. At the same time, a new report by the Lancet finds that ambient (outdoor) air pollution was responsible for 4.5 million deaths globally in 2019, up from 4.2 million deaths in 2015.

Strengthening India’s Response to Mounting Heat Hazards

April 01, 2022

As hot weather bears down on India, an April 6 online event co-organized by NRDC and Climate Trends will highlight the pressing need to adapt to mounting climate change-fueled heat hazards. In recent weeks, temperatures have already begun to rise to dangerous levels in many parts of the country, with some areas experiencing conditions 4-8 °C warmer than average.

Indian Cities Struggle for Clean Air

December 21, 2021

With dangerously high air pollution levels and continued respiratory threats from COVID-19, the need to protect public health in India is urgent. Aiming to fight air pollution, India’s environment minister Bhupendar Yadav recently announced plans to scale clean air programs to a national mission, “Clean Air for All”.

Aiming for Clean Air, Blue Skies: Update from Gujarat

September 07, 2021

In designating September 7th as the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, the United Nations reiterated that every human has the right to breathe clean air. This year’s theme, Healthy Air, Healthy Planet, emphasizes the connection between air quality climate change. Clear blue skies are something many in India marveled at during the COVID-19 lockdowns in major cities in the country.

Climate Action: All Eyes on India and Net-Zero by 2050

March 30, 2021

A groundbreaking analysis finds a pathway for India to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The new report comes out ahead of President Biden’s April 22nd global climate summit, which aims to have the largest emitters ramp up action on climate change. Biden has invited PM Narendra Modi and other world leaders to attend the two-day virtual climate summit.

Heat Action Plans 2021: Cool Roofs Challenge

January 27, 2021

Last year, 2020 is essentially tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record, according to NASA. The world’s seven-warmest years have all occurred since 2014, and in 2020 the Northern Hemisphere saw its hottest year on record. Extreme heat is not merely an inconvenience; it is a major global health threat and can be deadly.

State of Global Air Report: Unhealthy Air for All in India

November 12, 2020

The Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) recorded the worst air quality in four years this Diwali. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) just reached a season high in Delhi, after five consecutive days with recorded AQIs in or above "severe" (401 or greater). Within Delhi, several localities have recorded AQIs near the 500 mark for deadly fine particles – over eight times the safe Indian limit.

Return of Delhi Smog: Even More Life Threatening with COVID

October 14, 2020

Pollution in New Delhi dropped to a 20-year low during the COVID-19 national lockdown. Now with rising pollution levels, Delhi is losing the gains. For the first time since June, the city’s air quality reached the ‘very poor’ category with an air quality index (AQI) of 307. The urgency to protect residents from air pollution is even greater with the ongoing pandemic and the direct effects of pollution on public health outcomes.

First International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies

September 17, 2020

With experts calling on government officials in New Delhi to take action on winter air pollution and the implications on COVID-19, the recent International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies offers direction. As part of the international discussions, the Government of India highlighted updates on the National Clean Air Plan and nearly 2,000 doctors said that air pollution is harmful to health and urged the government to prioritize public health in combating air pollution and COVID-19.

Local Solutions Prepare South Asia for Searing Heat

February 14, 2020

With news that the last decade was the hottest on record and an array of costly climate-fueled disasters hitting countries around the planet, the huge societal problems posed by climate crisis are clearer than they have ever been before. Central to these climate risks are major threats to public health: carbon pollution is making searing heatwaves hotter, dangerous wildfires deadlier, and extreme rainfall events stronger.

Clearing the Air: How Indian Cities Are Fighting Pollution

January 28, 2020

Leaders from around the world are gathering at this week’s World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) in Delhi, India to help accelerate action on the climate crisis and strengthen community resilience.

Strengthening City Actions to Reach India’s Clean Air Goals

November 21, 2019

India’s air pollution challenges have made international news headlines this month, with air quality in Delhi reaching emergency levels of more than 20 times the World Health Organization (WHO) standard. But dangerous exposures to air pollution extend far beyond the capital city: India’s Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified 122 non-attainment cities across the country that exceed the country’s national ambient air quality standards.

Accelerating Action to Improve Air Quality in India

November 17, 2019

The air emergency in the New Delhi is impossible to ignore with little respite in sight. While New Delhi’s problems receive more media attention, most Indian cities are experiencing degraded air quality. To accelerate action, key Indian and international experts gathered in New Delhi to emphasize the public health emergency and highlight key actions cities can take now to fight lethal air pollution.

Air Emergency in Delhi: A Health Crisis Hits Home

November 05, 2019

Indian cities, especially in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) and other major northern cities, are in the middle of an air pollution emergency, with several air quality monitoring stations in the Delhi region registering readings above the severe 500 mark for deadly fine particles and many more stations showing severe health risks on the Air Quality Index.

Pune Expands City Efforts to Fight Dangerous Air Pollution

October 17, 2019

As Diwali approaches in India and with the winter season on its way, communities are preparing for a spike in air pollution levels. Indian cities struggle with some of the world’s worst air pollution that has direct links to long list of harmful health impacts. The western city of Pune is taking action toward developing health-based approaches to protect communities and advance mitigation efforts.

New Evidence Shows Pioneering Heat Action Plan Helps Millions Avoid Killer Heat

June 03, 2019

NEW DELHI, INDIA – A pioneering strategy to protect people from killer heat waves is rapidly catching on across India and beyond, as more communities adopt their own Heat Action Plans (HAP) to shield people from dangerously hot weather worsened by climate change.

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