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4 of the stalk and straw (Fig. 1). Recently, rice-stubble burning has become more active and is suspected to be related in Delhi-NCT (Cusworth et al., 2018; Liu et al., 2018; Balwinder-Singh et al., 2019; Beig et al., 2020). However, the link between stubble burning in the surrounding states and Delhi’s air pollution has not been well-established scientifically and is often controversial. Previous studies have found it difficult to quantitatively assess the extent to which rice stubble burning has impacted air pollution in Delhi because satellite observations of stubble burning (i.e., fires or hotspots) are often obstructed by clouds or dense fog from stubble burning, so the air pollutant emissions from stubble burning are difficult to quantify. More significantly, on the ground, most air pollutant monitoring stations are located in urban areas and no data are available for rural areas, making quantitative analysis of air pollution in rural areas very difficult. to the increasingly severe air pollution On the other hand, recent satellite observations have revealed that dense smog is spreading across the Indian Punjab (Vadrevu et al., 2011) and further eastern part of the IGP (Kaskaoutis et al., 2014; Sarkar et al., 2018a; 2018b). The IGP is a densely populated area where human activities have caused severe air pollution, and there are indications that this air pollution is having a negative impact on premature mortality (Ghude et al., 2016). If air pollutants from stubble burning are added to this, the situation is likely to worsen. Fig. 1 Representational image of rice stubble burning in Punjab (taken by the author on 4 November 2018). S. HAYASHIDA The Aakash Project was launched as a research project at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in April 2020 to tackle the issue of air pollution from large-scale rice-stubble burning in this region. It is a collaborative project between Japan and India, with about 30–40 researchers in each country (https://www.chikyu. ac.jp/rihn_e/activities/project/project/10/). This project utilizes observation data and model simulations to examine scientifically the connection between stubble burning in the Punjab and severe air pollution in Delhi. Based on this scientific understanding and considering the region’s cultural and socio-economic background and the people’s awareness of the negative impacts of air pollution on their health, we will pursue a pathway of social transformation toward clean air, public health and sustainable agriculture. During the first three years of the project, human exchange between India and Japan was almost completely closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but various activities were carried out with the full cooperation of the members on to November 2022, we deployed about 30 small air pollution measurement devices in an area from Punjab through Haryana in clearly demonstrating the linkage between air-pollutant emissions due to rice-stubble burning in the Punjab and severe air pollution in Delhi-NCT (Singh et al., 2023). In parallel with these field measurements, we explored the root the Indian side. From September to Delhi-NCT and succeeded

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