The Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan on January 10, 2019 launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), a time-bound national level strategy for pan India implementation to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
The main objective of the programme is comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution besides augmenting the air quality monitoring network across the country and strengthening the awareness and capacity building activities.
• The National Clean Air Program (NCAP) aims to cut pollution in the 102 worst affected cities by 20-30 percent by 2024, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of PM concentration.
• The programme will be a mid-term, five-year action plan with 2019 as the first year.
• The international experiences and national studies though 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 approach for NCAP includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between the relevant central ministries, state governments and local bodies with focus on all sources of pollution.
• The interlocking of the existing policies and programmes including the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) and other initiatives of the Government of India in reference to climate change will be done while execution of NCAP.
Main Features of NCAP:
• The Smart Cities program will be used to launch the NCAP in the 43 smart cities falling in the list of the 102 non-attainment cities.
• The NCAP is envisaged to be dynamic and will continue to evolve based on the additional scientific and technical information as they emerge.
• The NCAP will be institutionalised by respective ministries and will be organised through inter-sectoral groups, which include Ministry of Road Transport and Highway, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Ministry of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, NITI Aayog, CPCB, experts from the industry, academia and civil society.
• The program will partner with multilateral and bilateral international organisations and philanthropic foundations and leading technical institutions to achieve its outcomes.
• The city-specific action plans are being formulated for 102 non-attainment cities identified for implementing mitigation actions under NCAP.
• The cities have already prepared action plans in consultation with CPCB. The institutional framework at the centre and state level comprising of Apex Committee at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the Centre and at Chief Secretary Level in the States are to be constituted.
• In addition, sectoral working groups, national level Project Monitoring Unit, Project Implementation Unit, state level project monitoring unit, city level review committee under the Municipal Commissioner and DM level Committee in the Districts are to be constituted under NCAP for effective implementation and success of the Programme.
Air pollution is one of the biggest global environmental challenges of today. India is home to the world’s 14 most polluted cities, according to the World Health Organisation. The toxic air claimed 1.24 million lives in the nation in 2017, as per a study in Lancet Planetary Health.
Currently, the cities occupy just 3 per cent of the land, but contribute to 82 per cent of GDP and are responsible for 78 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions.
Cities though are engines of growth and equity but they have to be sustainable and it is in this context that NCAP being a very inclusive program holds special relevance.
The launch ceremony was attended by more than 150 participants representing central and state governments, industries, national and international organisations, universities and research institutes from across the country.
The programme’s launch coincides with the annual peak of pollution levels in northern India, including New Delhi. Last week pollution surged to “emergency” levels in the capital, as the Central Pollution Control Board’s air quality index of poisonous particulate matter hit 440, more than 12 times recommended limit.