NERC partners with India for cleaner air and improved water quality

9 November 2016

NERC has joined forces with the Indian government and the country's scientists to tackle air pollution in Delhi and help secure improved water quality nationwide.

Smog in India

Smog has increasingly become a problem in Delhi, India

The two Newton Fund announcements were made during the India-UK TECH Summit in New Delhi on Tuesday, attended by UK and Indian prime ministers Theresa May and Narendra Modi.

The summit has brought together British and Indian science and technology experts and businesses to connect and explore the future of India-UK collaboration. A series of joint UK / India research initiatives worth up to £80 million were announced today by the UK Science Minister, Jo Johnson and Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science & Technology & Earth Sciences, India. More information is available on the Research Councils UK news announcement - external link.

Grants announced to investigate air pollution in Delhi

Schools were closed in Delhi this week following an emergency government meeting to discuss how to combat severe air pollution - external link. In partnership with the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences and Department of Biotechnology, NERC and the Medical Research Council (MRC) are supporting five projects to investigate the sources and effects of polluted air in the city.

Researchers from UK universities and institutes will partner with Indian scientists thanks to funding via the Newton Fund and matched funding by India, totalling £6·4 million. The work is part of the joint NERC-MRC Atmospheric Pollution & Human Health in a Developing Megacity programme.

The new projects will investigate a range of issues including the sources, emissions and fluxes of atmospheric pollutants, and examine the impact of exposure on pregnant mothers, new-born children and asthmatic adolescents. More information about the programme can be found on the NERC programme page.

The five new projects are:

  • Dr Eiko Nemitz, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UK principle investigator (PI)) and Dr Bhola Ram Gurjar (Indian PI): Megacity Delhi atmospheric emission quantification, assessment & impacts (DelhiFlux).
  • Professor William Bloss, University of Birmingham (UK PI) and Professor Mukesh Khare (Indian PI): An Integrated Study of Air Pollutant Sources in the Delhi National Capital Region (NCR).
  • Professor Ranjeet Sokhi, University of Hertfordshire (UK PI) and Dr Gufranullah Beig (Indian PI): Process analysis, observations & modelling - Integrated solutions for cleaner air for Delhi (PROMOTE).
  • Professor DK Arvind, University of Edinburgh (UK PI) and Dr Kalpana Balakrishnan (Indian PI): Delhi Air Pollution: Health & Effects (DAPHNE).
  • Dr Anil Namdeo, Newcastle University, (UK PI) and Dr M Shiva Nagendra (Indian PI): CADTIME: Clean Air for Delhi through Interventions, Mitigations & Engagement.

For further details about each project including abstracts, visit our online grants browser - Grants on the Web.

View details of funded projects - external link

NERC-EPSRC water quality partnership

NERC and the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have announced an £7 million Newton Fund programme on water quality with the Indian Department of Science & Technology. UK and Indian researchers will attend a joint scoping workshop in Delhi this month. The workshop will inform the development of an open call for research proposals from researchers working in the fields of water quality, water engineering and related disciplines. More information can be found on the scoping workshop page.

NERC and AMR in India

A £13 million UK-India research programme will strengthen the global fight against anti-microbial resistance (AMR). The UK and Indian science ministers announced the investment when they open the inaugural meeting of the Research Councils UK-India strategic group on AMR, in New Delhi. This is one of several new UK-India Newton Fund research initiatives, supported by the Newton Fund, Research Councils UK including NERC, and Indian funding partners, to address major global challenges and expand cultural horizons.

Further information

Mary Goodchild
NERC media office
01793 411939
07710 147485


1. NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is a non-departmental public body. We receive around £330 million of annual funding from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

2. The Newton Fund builds science and innovation partnerships with 16 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK delivery partners, which include the research councils, the UK Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.

3. Research Councils UK (RCUK) India, launched in 2008, brings together the best researchers in the UK and India through high-quality, high-impact research partnerships. RCUK India, based at the British high commission in New Delhi, has facilitated co-funded initiatives between the UK, India and third parties exceeding £200 million. The research collaborations are often closely linked with UK and Indian industry partners, with more than 90 partners involved in the research. RCUK India plays a key role in enhancing the UK-India relationship in science and research.

4. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven research councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK's global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK higher education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

The seven UK research councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • Medical Research Council (MRC)
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)