Budget to be utilised to clean up air in 102 cities

Reuters file photo

The Union Environment Ministry is set to initiate a special scheme to reduce air pollution in 102 cities, including four in Karnataka.

“The budget for 2018-19 was Rs 2,683 crore and the allocation in 2019-20 budget is Rs 3,175 crore— an increase of Rs 482 crore,” Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.

Most of the enhanced budget, nearly Rs 450 crore, would be utilised for clean air programme as the central government will fund purchase of vacuum road cleaning machines, install more instruments to check PM-2.5 and PM-10 (particulate matter with 2.5 and 10 micron size) level and strengthening the state pollution control boards.

“Out of 102 cities, action plans for 80 cities are ready and the programme will be launched soon. For the rest, the plans are being prepared,” the minister said here on Tuesday.

The special action plan will provide aid and expertise to city civic administration for tackling city specific pollution aspects like solid waste management, vehicular pollution, industrial emission and dust management.

It would, however, be the second launch of the air clean up programme— known as National Clean Air Programme— which was officially rolled out in January, 2019, by then environment minister Harsh Vardhan.

With the Election Commission announcing the dates for general election on March 10, implementation of the clean air programme was halted even before it could start. The same programme would now be repackaged and relaunched with additional resources.

The aim is to reduce PM-2.5 and PM-10 by 20% in the next two years and by 30% within five years, explained environment secretary C K Mishra.

There would be a special grant of Rs 10 crore for cities with million plus population.

Bangalore is the only such city out of the 28 urban centres with more than a million population.

The three other large towns in Karnataka among the 102 cities with high level of air pollution are Davanagere, Gulbarga and Hubli-Dharwad.

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