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Draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP): an overview

Context:

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has recently released the Draft National Clean Air Programme (NCAP).

Background:

  • Purpose of the programme is to: meet the “annual average air quality standards at all locations in the country in a stipulated time-frame”.
  • In order to achieve its purpose: 100 non-attainment cities would have to design city-specific action plans with specific timelines.
  • Budget: amounting to Rs 637 crore has been set aside for aiding implementation of the programme.

Please note: NCAP is similar to China’s time bound clean air action plan which has already resulted in pollution levels reducing in the past couple of years.

The objectives of Draft NCAP are as follows:

  • Overcome the deficits of the ongoing government initiatives targeted towards air pollution control;
  • Expand existing air quality monitoring network by:
    • Increasing number of existing manual and continuous monitoring stations,
    • Introducing rural monitoring stations, identifying alternative technology for real-time monitoring network and
    • Strengthening the capabilities of existing monitoring stations to measure Particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration.
  • Devise air quality management plans for 100 non-attainment cities calls for detailed source apportionment (identification of pollution sources) studies for each city;
  • Constitute a high-level apex committee and working group under the Indian Council of Medical Research and the MoEF&CC;
  • Set up:
    • An Air Information Centre that would analyse and disseminate monitored data;
    • A technology assessment cell for evaluation of new pollution prevention and control technologies; and
    • An Air Quality Forecasting system.

The Draft NCAP has the following drawbacks:

  • The draft doesn’t quantify the emission reduction targets;
  • Specific targets to reduce 35 per cent pollution levels in the next three years and 50 per cent pollution levels in the next five years is not mentioned in the draft; and
  • There is no reference of specific management activities and source based initiatives for implementation.

Way ahead:

  • There is a need to make the public aware of the basic terminologies related to pollution;
  • There has to be a transparency of information in the public domain and inclusive public participation starting from planning level;
  • The ‘time-bound’ strategies should not be accomplished in a haste with sterile results.

Some important and related terminologies:

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB): Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is a statutory organisation, was constituted in September, 1974 under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974. It serves as a field formation and also provides technical services to the Ministry of Environment and Forests of the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Principal functionsof the CPCB, as spelt out in the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 are:

(i) to promote cleanliness of streams and wells in different areas of the States by prevention, control and abatement of water pollution, and

(ii) to improve the quality of air and to prevent, control or abate air pollution in the country.

Non-attainment cities: The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified list of polluted cities in which the prescribed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are violated. These cities are known as Non-attainment cities and have been identified based on ambient air quality data obtained (2008-2010) under National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP).

Particulate matteris the sum of all solid and liquid particles suspended in air many of which are hazardous. This complex mixture includes both organic and inorganic particles, such as dust, pollen, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.

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