Air Pollution in India: With problems related to air pollution spreading beyond Delhi, the central government has now come up with programmes aimed at curbing this growing menace not just in the capital, but beyond. A total of 100 cities have been chosen based on the levels of pollution to be part of the ‘National Clean Air Programme’ (NCAP). The Centre is aiming to reduce pollution levels by 35 per cent in three years and further reduced to 50 per cent, according to reports.
Giving out details of the ambitious foray, Union minister Harsh Vardhan said that the programme will see expansion of the monitoring network and studies conducted to assess the health impact of air pollution. Besides, air information systems will be set up and awareness drives will also be launched. The programme will also include carrying out source apportionment studies and extend support for strict implementation of identified actions for abatement of air pollution from all sources.
The issue of air pollution found a mention in FM Arun Jaitley’s Budget speech, where he had pointed to air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region as a cause of concern. He also said that a special scheme would be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution and to subsidize machinery required for in situ management of crop residue.
Earlier, the centre said it had formulated a National Clear Air Programme to tackle “increasing” air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner. Harsh Vardhan said that the government has formulated the NCAP as a long term time-bound national level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner. The National Clear Air Programme focuses on a collaborative and participatory approach comprising all sources of pollution and coordination between relevant central ministries, state governments, local bodies and other stakeholders.
The focus on air pollution and the need for combating it gathered steam when the Delhi High Court in 2015 likened the situation in Delhi to “living in a gas chamber”. The comments drew some stopgap measures like the Odd-Even road rationing scheme launched in Delhi, but a sustainable solution has evaded. While the focus has largely remained on Delhi, other cities too have been reeling under the impact of air pollution. Cities like Agra, Rohtak, Patna, Varanasi etc. have also seen pollution grow along with its health impacts, studies have shown.