Plan to improve air quality in 102 cities in 5 years

Plan to improve air quality in 102 cities in 5 years

The Union Environment Ministry on Thursday launched the National Clean Air Programme that aims to improve the air quality in 102 Indian cities including four in Karnataka – Bengaluru, Davangere, Kalaburagi and Hubballi-Dharwad – in the next five years.

The target is to reduce the concentration of PM-2.5 and PM-10 (particulate matter of 2.5 and 10 microns sizes respectively) by 20-30% from the 2017 level.

Of the 102 cities where the programme would be implemented, as many as 43 are those chosen for the government's Smart City programme.

“We 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 PM 2.5 and PM 10 national standard from 2011 to 2015. An amount of Rs 300 crore has been sanctioned by the Ministry of Finance for the purpose,” Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said at the launch.

Rs 300 crore

The Environment Ministry officials told DH that Rs 300 crore was only for the initial expenses as the programme would be requiring nearly Rs 2,000 crore. While part of the allocation would come from the government, foreign funding agencies are likely to be roped in into the programme too.

Sources said the project cost had increased by more than Rs 1,300 crore from the initial estimate of Rs 637 crore.

While city-specific action plans are being fine-tuned, the local administration is to undertake a series of actions related to the construction, transport, power, agriculture and waste management sector, which would eventually reduce release of the dust particles in the air.

For example, to reduce pollution from road dust as well as construction and demolition activities, the action points include sprinkling of water coming out of sewage treatment plants along the road and spraying of water at busy traffic intersections twice a day. Other action points are introduction of mechanical sweepers, wall-to-wall paving of roads, greening and landscaping of arterial roads and stringent implementation of the rules related to the construction and demolition activities.

'Tough targets'

“The intended 20% to 30% reductions are tough targets,” said environment secretary C K Mishra. “We’ve outlined problems and solutions – the targets are challenging but we believe they are doable if done well.”

“Cities occupy just 3% of the land but contribute to 82% of GDP and are responsible for 78% of carbon dioxide emissions. Though are engines of growth and equity, the cities have to be sustainable. In this context NCAP holds special relevance,” said NITI Ayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant.

“It is good to see the final version of NCAP out after a long wait. The silver lining in the plan is the potential reduction of 20 - 30% by 2024. We hoped it would be much stronger in providing sector-wise targets, specific targets for cities and mentioned strong legal backing to take action against non-implementation. We hope the Environment Ministry shows more seriousness in implementing the plan and strengthen it here onwards,” said Sunil Dahiya, senior campaigner, Greenpeace India.

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