Ministry increases cost of clean air programme by 99 crore in 7 months

What has been dropped from the NCAP is the specific target of reducing air pollution by 35% in 3 years and by 50% in five years. DH File Photo

Within a span of 7 months, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has jacked up the cost of implementing the National Clean Air Programme by Rs 99 crore but dropped its specific achievement targets.

Going by an internal copy of the NCAP concept note – reviewed by DH – total project cost was estimated to be Rs 538 crore in September 2017.

But in the final NCAP document, released last week for public comments, the cost has been pushed up to Rs 637 crore – an increase of Rs 99 crore.

The ministry didn't offer any explanation on the cost escalation. “The total tentative cost of NCAP is estimated at Rs 637 crore,” says a statement issued by the ministry during a nation-wide consultation on the NCAP this week. Representatives from more than 20 states and Union Territories attended the meeting.

The tentative cost excludes the money that would require to implement the city-specific action plans. State governments are to bear most of the implementation cost.

Five major expense heads as per the new plan are (I) capacity building including manpower and infrastructure augmentation at the Central Pollution Control Board and State Pollution Control Boards (Rs 150 crore) (ii) purchase of 100 continuous ambient air quality monitoring stations (Rs 120 crore) (iii) extending source apportionment studies to 94 non-attainment cities (Rs 100 crore) (iv) setting up a three-tier review, assessment and inspection mechanism (Rs 50 crore) and (v) awareness and training (Rs 50 crore).

What has been dropped from the NCAP is the specific target of reducing air pollution by 35% in 3 years and by 50% in five years.

Days before releasing the NCAP, several Parliamentarians wrote to the Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan seeking to know the roadmap for meeting such an ambitious target.

The lawmakers who wanted to know the programme details include Shashi Tharoor (Cong), Vikram Usendi, Daddan Mishra and Kirti Vardhan Singh (all BJP) and Tiruchi Shiva (DMK).

Several environment ministry internal notes cite the 35% and 50% targets. But when the final NCAP document was released, there was no mention of the target.

Bangalore, Davanagere, Gulbarga and Hubli-Dharwad are the four Karnataka cities identified under NACP. They will be among 100 Indian cities where the programme would be initiated to clean up the air.


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