18 Indian Institutions to Study Nitrogen Pollution

Prelims level : Environment / fertilizers Mains level : GS “Environmental Pollution”.
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  • Eighteen research institutions in India are among a group of 50 institutions — called the South Asian Nitrogen Hub (SANH) — in the United Kingdom and South Asia that have secured £20 million (about Rs. 200 crore) from the U.K. government to assess and study the quantum and impact of “nitrogen pollution” in South Asia.


  • While nitrogen is the dominant gas in the atmosphere, it is inert and doesn’t react. However, when it is released as part of compounds from agriculture, sewage and biological waste, nitrogen is considered “reactive”, and it may be polluting and even exert a potent greenhouse gas (heat trapping) effect.

Major Impacts:

  • “So far, we have focussed on carbon dioxide and its impact on global warming. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide but isn’t as prevalent in the atmosphere. However, this is poised to grow,” said N. Raghuram, Chairman, International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) and Professor of Biotechnology at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi.
  • “In the future, reactive nitrogen pollution will be a matter of significant global discussion and, unlike carbon, India and South Asia cannot wake up at the last minute, realising that it has no updated, scientific assessment of its inventory.”


  • Last year, Dr. Raghuram led a consortium of researchers who assessed trends in nitrogen emissions in India, where NOx emissions grew at 52% from 1991 to 2001 and 69% from 2001 to 2011. The SANH will study the impacts of the different forms of pollution to form a “coherent picture” of the nitrogen cycle. In particular, it will look at nitrogen in agriculture in eight countries — India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives.
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