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Why in News?

  • There are 139 Indian cities that breach air pollution standards but are not included in the Centre’s National Clean Air Programme (NCAP), says a report by Greenpeace.
  • The NCAP was launched by the government earlier this month and is a ₹300 crore initiative to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.

Highlights of the Report

:

  • Airpocalypse III, as the Greenpeace report is titled, analyses air pollution data of 313 cities and towns for the year 2017.
  • Of these 313 cities, 241 (77%) had PM10 levels beyond the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). These specify upper limits to a range of airborne chemicals and compounds. While 102 of these cities were included in the NCAP, the remaining 139 cities were left out. That’s because the government’s list of 102 cities relied on average pollution data until 2015, whereas Airpocalypse III used data updated up to 2017.
  • Even if the NCAP were to able to reduce pollution by 30% by 2024, 153 cities would still be left with pollution levels exceeding the NAAQS.
  • Of the 139 cities that have not been included in the non-attainment list under the NCAP, there are several cities that have a population of more than 1 million, and PM levels (recorded in 2017) above NAAQS. These include: Ranchi, Dhanbad (Jharkhand); Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh); Chennai, Madurai (Tamil Nadu); Meerut (Uttar Pradesh); Pimpri-Chindwar, Thane, (Maharashtra); Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara (Gujarat); and Howrah (West Bengal).

National Clean Air Programme (NCAP):

  • The Centre has launched the programme to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024.
  • It is envisaged as a scheme to provide the States and the Centre with a framework to combat air pollution.
  • Overcome the deficits of the ongoing government initiatives targeted towards air pollution control
  • Expand existing air quality monitoring network by – increasing number of existing manual and continuous monitoring stations and introducing rural monitoring stations, identifying alternative technology for real-time monitoring network and
  • Strengthening the capabilities of existing monitoring stations to measure Particulate matter (PM) 2.5 concentration.
  • Devise air quality management plans for the cities calls for detailed source apportionment (identification of pollution sources) studies for each city
  • Constitute a high-level apex committee and working group under the Indian Council of Medical Research and the MoEF&CC;
  • Set up an Air Information Centre that would analyse and disseminate monitored data; a technology assessment cell for evaluation of new pollution prevention and control technologies; and an Air Quality Forecasting system.
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