In this study, an atmospheric dispersion model along with a systematic emission inventory was used to explore the possible control strategy to reduce ambient levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Kanpur city, India. A GIS based emission inventory of NOx was developed for the base, 5th and 10th years. It was observed that the 5th and 10th years will experience increased emissions by factors of 1.7 and 2.5 of the base year if no control policy is implemented. Seventeen control options (i.e. introduction of Euro 6 to vehicles, banning of 15-year old private vehicles etc.) were considered for evaluation through the dispersion modelling. A control scenario comprising the following control options (1) implementation of Euro 6 for vehicles, (2) compressed natural gas (CNG) for commercial and public vehicles, etc. was found to be most effective in reducing the ambient NOx levels and attaining a 24-hour average air quality standard. © 2014 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.