The Union Environment Ministry has officially unveiled the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) with an aim to reduce air pollution by 20% by 2024.
- The NCAP is a framework for states and central government to tackle air pollution.
- The newly unveiled scheme is for five years beginning from 2019.
- The scheme is applicable only for 102 cities.
- It aims to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in these cities by 2024. The base year for calculating PM levels is 2017.
- The scheme is launched with a total fund of Rs. 300 crore.
- The scheme envisages to achieve the targets by partnering with International organizations, environmental organizations, bilateral international organizations, philanthropic organizations, etc.
Objective of NCAP
As per the Ministry, “Overall objective of the NCAP is comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country and strengthening the awareness and capacity building activities.”
- The 102 cities identified by the Ministry submitted their plans to tackle air pollution.
- The plans include increasing air pollution monitoring stations even in rural areas; providing technological support; source apportionment studies for better understanding the patterns of pollution; and strengthening enforcement of pollution related laws.
- As per the Scheme, the cities have to implement specific plans on specific days for better outcomes.
- Some measures are – reducing dust by making roads pot-hole free and ensuring free traffic flow or taking strict action against brick kilns.
Experts say that proper enforcement of the scheme is a big challenge.
They also question the how the government has determined the specific levels of PM in each city and the reduction targets.
Urgency for Such A Scheme
Indian cities are constantly finding place in many reports as the most polluted cities in the world. The recent World Health Organisation’s (WHO) database on air pollution Tier I and Tier II cities of the country as the most polluted in the world. So much so that, 14 of the most polluted cities in the world are in India.
Also, as per a study by the WHO, over a lakh children in India under age five died due to air pollution in 2016.
The numbers are staggering and the government’s over the years have turned a blind eye. Only in the last few years, the scourge of air pollution in the national capital and international criticism opened the eyes of the lawmakers. Hope this time around the scheme is implemented successfully and do not go in the way of Namami Gange.