On 10th January 2018, Government of India launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which essentially will put in place mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution. The NCAP will be rolled out in 102 cities across India where the air quality standard is worse than the National Air Quality Standards.
The most polluted 102 cities have been identified based on the National Pollution Control Board’s National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Programme data for 2011-2015.
The programme sets a target of 20-30% reduction in the Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 & 10 concentration in the air by 2024 as compared to the base year 2017. However, the targets are not legally binding and there will be no penal actions against erring cities.
The programme was launched by Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan who called it a ‘war against pollution’.
The programme which mainly focuses on setting up air quality monitoring network across the country, strengthening the awareness and capacity building will cost 637 crores. The major cost for the implementation of city specific action plans is not included in this and will have to be majorly borne by the states. However NCAP allocates funds for extending source apportionment studies to 94 nonattainment cities so that science based city specific action plans can be made.
As per the programme document particulate matter pollution due to vehicles, industries, construction activities, diesel gensets, biomass burning and commercial and domestic use of fuel etc. is a major challenge across the country and in the urban areas of the Indo Gangetic Plains.
It is noteworthy that World Health Organization in its 2018 database listed 14 Indian cities among the top 15 most polluted cities in the world.
NCAP will be implemented through ‘collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between central ministries, state governments and local bodies’. It is being institutionalized through inter sectoral groups consisting of Ministry of Finance, Health, NITI Aayog and experts from different fields.