Over 130 highly polluted cities violating the national air quality standards have been left out of the recently launched National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), a new study has revealed. A Greenpeace India report, which identified 139 cities where air pollution level exceeds national standards, said the NCAP is based on limited data from 2011-2015 and that’s why a large number of highly polluted cities have been kept out of its purview.
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the five-year action plan earlier this month to reduce air pollution by 30 per cent by 2024, with 2017 as base year. The report title ‘Airpocalypse III’ analysed air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017. It said that of the 313 cities, 241 are on the list of non-attainment cities (highly polluted cities), but the NCAP has included only 102.
“All these 241 cities are on the list of ‘non-attainment’ cities that are required to take action under the NCAP. This is a sharp increase of 139 cities… (and) the list of non-attainment cities in the NCAP was drawn up using data from 2011-2015,” the report read. The environment body said it would ask the ministry to update the list with 2017 data.
A Greenpeace India official said, “Realizing the 30 per cent pollution reduction target by 2024 must be only the first step in making India’s air breathable. That will still leave about 50 per cent cities in violation of the national air quality standards.”
“Millions of Indians will continue breathing hazardous air even in years to come, making it imperative that the MoEFCC set more specific and ambitious city-wise and sector-wise pollution reduction targets. The inclusion of sectoral pollution reduction targets along with strong accountability and compliance mechanisms is the only way in which we can achieve clean air and blue skies,” the officials said.