Assessing the high Air Quality Index in India’s capital and its causes

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: India

Publishing organisation: IndiaSpend, FactChecker

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-11-10

Language: English

Authors: Nushaiba Iqbal, Rohit Upadhyay, Nileena Suresh


Nushaiba Iqbal works as a reporter and analyst at IndiaSpend.
Nileena works as a data journalist at IndiaSpend.

Project description:

Every winter, the AQI in Delhi rises over 300 and is categorised as very poor or severe. This is a set of stories understanding how it affects people in the city, and analysing the factors that cause the rise in AQI including agriculture fires in farms nearby.

Impact reached:

Every year, there are several claims and miinformation around the problem of rising pollution in the capital. The project includes explainers, fact checks and uncovers data gap to breakdown the different aspects of the crisis that affects the city of Delhi every winter.

Techniques/technologies used:

The data gaps story on decrease in agricultural fires uses shell script to download fire event data from FIRMS by NASA. The daily data for the winter of 2020 and 2021 is projected on a map using flourish. To get a count of the number of farm fires in each state, reverse geocoding of the latitude and longitude was done by calling mapbox’s API using a shell script for each fire event listed in the FIRMS dataset.

Context about the project:

The pollution in the capital city has been used as a political agenda for the last few years, governments in the states of Delhi, Punjab and the central government have used this crisis for political gains.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

The problem of air pollution during the winter does not have one clear cause or solution, which makes it an ambiguous and confusing problem to understand and explain. The focus on misinformation and gaps in the data used for claims, helps address this crisis.

Project links: