"The NCAP is a highly ambitious initiative when implemented in a timely fashion can make our cities, towns breathable and skies blue again."
Green bodies and experts Thursday welcomed the government’s National Clean Air Plan to tackle pollution, calling for its “serious” implementation. Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan Thursday launched the NCAP to improve air quality in 102 cities by 20 to 30 per cent in the next five years with 2017 as the base year. These cities did not meet the annual PM 2.5 and PM 10 national standard from 2011 to 2015. “It is good to see the final version of the NCAP out after a long wait with the vision of reducing air pollution levels across the country.
The silver lining in the plan is the potential reduction of 20 – 30 per cent by 2024,” Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India, Sunil Dahiya, said. He also mentioned that there should be strong legal backing to take action against non-implementation of the plan. “We hoped it would be much stronger in providing sector-wise targets, targets for cities.We hope the ministry shows more seriousness in implementing the plan and strengthening it here onwards” Dahiya said. Sachidanand Tripathi, professor and head Centre for Environmental Science and Civil Engineering, IIT-Kanpur said “The NCAP is a highly ambitious initiative when implemented in a timely fashion can make our cities, towns breathable and skies blue again.”
It is a massive task that should be joined by all state and local governments in equal measures for a healthy future generation of country, the professor said. The plan pegged as a time-bound national-level strategy aims to tackle increasing air pollution across the country in a comprehensive manner.. “Under the NCAP, the instituted protocol has suggested creating mentor institutes all over the country who will in turn undertake major activities including assessment, training and capacity building for different agencies involved at local levels in cities.
“The identified activities must also include techno-economic assessment of the critically polluted areas that includes industrial clusters beyond urban settings,” Professor at IIT-Delhi Mukesh Khare said. The International Council for Clean Transportation said formalisation of NCAP is a welcome move but it not a surprise that the plan in its present version falls short of the aim that is necessary to address air pollution in India. “NCAP’s focus on improving air quality monitoring and associated research studies, as well as city level action plans is a necessary first step.
“In addition to setting specific national level emission reduction targets, NCAP framework should help establish similar targets at state and city level and include a new thrust on compliance with the national as well as state and city level regulations on emissions supported by necessary enforcement actions,” Anup Bandivadekar from ICCT said. Aarti Khosla, Director, Climate Trends said that “while the NCAP is welcome, the government must strengthen compliance”. “We have seen enough plans, and the basic right to clean air can’t be left hanging in balance due to lack of strong enforcement of law and regulation,” Khosla said. The NCAP will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
However, the international experiences and national studies indicate that significant outcome in terms of air pollution initiatives are visible only in the long-term, and hence, the programme may be further extended to a longer time horizon after a mid-term review of the outcomes. The government will utilise the Smart Cities Mission to launch the NCAP in 43 of the 102 non-attainment cities which did not meet the annual PM 2.5 and PM 10 national standard from 2011 to 2015. The approach for NCAP includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies.
Dovetailing of the existing policies and programmes including the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and other initiatives of Government of India in reference to climate change will be done while execution of NCAP. Other features of NCAP include, increasing number of monitoring stations in the country including rural monitoring stations, technology support, emphasis on awareness and capacity building initiatives, setting up of certification agencies for monitoring equipment, source apportionment studies, emphasis on enforcement, specific sectoral interventions etc.