National Clean Air Program for the Prevention of Air Pollution
Recently, the Central Government has decided to launch a campaign against the air pollution across the country on the war-footing of the country while fulfilling the proverb of ‘late Ied Rectified Ayad’. Under this, National Clean Air Program (NCAP) has been started at a cost of 300 crores. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan launched the program on January 10 in New Delhi. This plan named NCAP will be implemented in several phases.
What is NCAP?
This is a comprehensive and time-bound five year program designed to prevent air pollution.
It will focus on all sources of pollution and co-ordination between the concerned Union Ministries, State Governments, Local Bodies and other stakeholders.
Its main goal is to work for the prevention, control and eradication of air pollution.
In order to deal with severe air pollution in most cities of the country, this countrywide plan has been targeted to clean the air of 102 polluted cities in the next five years.
Considering 2017 as Aadhaar year, ‘Estimated National Target’ for reducing PM 2.5 and PM10 particles in the air by 20 to 30 per cent has been kept.
Under this scheme, financial assistance will also be given to the states, so that the work done to deal with air pollution does not hinder the shortage of money.
Each city will be asked to develop its work plan for implementation based on pollution sources.
State-level plans of e-mobility in the area of two-wheeler vehicles, rapid growth in charging infrastructure, strict implementation of BS-VI norms, promotion of public transport system and adoption of third party audit for polluting industries also in NCAP Are included.
NCAP is just a scheme and is not legally binding and there is no provision for e-penal action or penalties.
What is the goal of NCAP?
In view of the international experiences and national studies available at the time of making NCAP. It has been kept in mind that most of the programs which reduce air pollution should not be made for the whole country but for the special purpose of the country, as it is found in foreign countries. For example, cities like Beijing and Seoul, where after running such a specific program, saw a decline of 35-40% in PM2.5 levels in five years.
But no matter how successful such programs are abroad, the level of pollution will be high in most of our cities, despite the above quantity reduction. If there is a reduction of 30 per cent by 2024 in the situation of air pollution in Delhi, then the level of pollution will be much higher than the danger level.
Selection of cities
102 cities have been selected from the list of polluted cities of Central Pollution Control Board for NCAP. These cities have been selected based on the data of the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Program, 2011-15.
Of these cities 94 of the PM10 levels have remained consistently exceeding the limit in these five years and nitrogen dioxide levels were found in five cities.
As far as the question is PM2.5, data from 2015 shows that 16 of these cities are such that can not achieve the NCAP’s target.
Top 10 cities were also selected from World Health Organization’s database of April 2018, out of which 14 out of the 15 most polluted cities in the world were in India.
How to apply NCAP?
Broadly, NCAP plans to implement the central ministries, state governments and local bodies with collaborative, multi-level and regional coordination.
In accordance with the Air (Prevention and Pollution Control) Act, 1981, the Central Pollution Control Board will conduct a nationwide program for the prevention, control and eradication of air pollution under the structure of NCAP.
In this, special provisions of section 16 (2) (B) of the Act will be given special attention.
NCAP will be institutionalized by the concerned Ministries and it will be organized by inter-regional groups.
These groups will include the Ministry of Finance, Health Ministry, Policy Commission and experts from different fields.
Some of NCAP’s strategies are not new to the country, but under NCAP, better implementation will be arranged. For example, in the NCAP, the traffic concierge has been conceived by the police to manage the movement of vehicles. Likewise, the matter of converting solid waste management by municipal corporations and adoption of stringent industrial standards by the concerned Ministries has been stated in NCAP.
Particulate Mater is the Biggest Challenge
Particulate Mater has been identified as the biggest challenge in NCAP. It is found more than the border in the entire country and in the Ganga plains.
In this, vehicles, industries, large-scale construction, use of diesel generators and commercial and domestic use of fuel have been identified as major pollutants.
Most studies about particulate matter in the country are about Delhi. NCAP states that it started with the formation of Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) in 1992 in Delhi and NCR. That is why it has an edge over those cities, where studies have not been done about particulate matter.
In such a situation, the current information available about the cities provides a basis for initiating action in different areas. But to strengthen the air quality management plans, there is a need to study according to the status of various cities.
How will prevention?
Here are some of the key ways suggested in NCAP to reduce pollution:
Applying strict enforcement rules through a web-based three-level mechanism, which will review, monitor, evaluate and inspect to prevent any sort of leakage. Experiences so far show that there is no compliance with rules due to lack of regular monitoring and inspection. For the strict implementation of the rules, trained personnel and regular inspection campaign must be run.
For emissions during the generation of power, in December 2015, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has implemented the set emission standards for thermal power plants (coal-based power plants) in a period of two years. By the way it has already been extended till 2022.
About the pollution caused by burning of agricultural residues like Parli, NCAP said that initiatives have been initiated through central assistance of Rs 1,151 crore.
The challenge is not easy
Due to air pollution, many cities including the national capital Delhi have become the gas chambers. India’s cities are at the top of the list of globalized agencies polluting cities. It is only in the next five years that the goal of bringing down air pollution by 20 to 30 per cent is a major challenge. The reason for this is that the speed of pollution in the country is much faster than the preventive measures. One of the major reasons for air pollution in our country is not the concrete transport policy. For this reason, in a large number of thousands of millions of such old vehicles are racing in most cities whose period has expired and also the number of diesel vehicles is high. In such a situation, quick and concrete steps are needed to deal with air pollution. Public participation is also very important to deal with pollution. Unless people will be made aware, Government efforts will not prove to be effective. In such a way, this move of the Ministry of Environment should be seen as a good initiative and should be expected that efforts made in this direction will be meaningful.