National Clean Air programme: Besides strategies to reduce air pollution concentration, pollution monitoring networks will be enhanced and activities will be put in place to improve awareness.
Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan will launch the much-awaited National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) today to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 (fine, respirable pollution particles) and PM10 (coarse pollution particles) by 20% to 30% till 2024 over the 2017 annual average levels.
According to senior ministry officials, the plan will be collaborative and participatory in nature, which means it will not be legally binding on states. The Centre will also utilise the Smart Cities Mission to launch the NCAP in 43 of the 102 non-attainment cities which did not meet the annual PM10 national standard from 2011 to 2015.
Besides strategies to reduce air pollution concentration, pollution monitoring networks will be enhanced and activities will be put in place to improve awareness. Specific action plans are being formulated for these cities, which will be assessed and approved by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Non-attainment cities are those which do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM 10 (particulate matter that is 10 microns or less in diameter) or NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) over a period of five years.
Each city will be expected to reduce their PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by at least 20% over 2017 baseline. In Delhi, the annual average PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations in 2017 were 124 micrograms per cubic metre and 266 micrograms per cubic metre respectively, which will have to be brought down to 99 micrograms for PM2.5 and 212 for PM10, according to the NCAP.
The NCAP will be operationalised through inter-sectoral groups, which include ministries of road transport and highways; petroleum and natural gas; new and renewable energy; housing and urban affairs among others, the official added. The institutional framework will comprise an apex committee under the ministry of environment, forest and climate change and a committee at the chief secretary level in the states.