Prelims level : science and tech Mains level : GS-2 (Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation) GS-3 (Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment)
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Why in News:

  • The current high-level air pollution has shortened the average lifespan of a South Asian child by 20 months. Air pollution contributed to over 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017.


  • State of Global Air 2019 published by Health Effect Institute said exposure to air pollution contributed to 1.2 million deaths in India.
  • It also said that air pollution was responsible for more risk factors than malnutrition, alcohol abuse, and physical inactivity.
  • In India air pollution the third highest cause of death among all healthy risks, ranking just above smoking, road traffic injuries, malaria.
  • India and china are responsible for half of the total deaths from air pollution.

Initiatives taken by India:

  • India had taken major steps to address pollution sources such as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG Programme, accelerated Bharat Stage VI clean vehicle standards and National Clean Air Programme.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY): Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel – LPG, so that they don’t have to compromise their health in smoky kitchens or wander in unsafe areas collecting firewood.
  • Under this scheme, LPG connections will be provided to BPL families with a support of Rs.1600 per connection. The connection is provided in the name of the adult women of the family. Further, an option is provided to provide a loan at zero interest to bear the cost of the cooking stove and first refill which has to be paid by the beneficiary.
  • The beneficiaries under the scheme were identified through socio economic caste census, now all the poor of the country are now eligible to get PMUY connection.

Bharat Stage (BS) VI:

  • The Union Government in October 2016 had decided to skip one stage and migrate to BS- VI directly from BS-IV from April 2020 to fight the growing pollution.
  • It was part of concerted efforts of Government to reduce vehicular emissions and improve fuel efficiency with an aim to reduce carbon footprints and keep environment healthy.

Benefits of Bharat Stage (BS) VI:

  • The major difference in standards between the existing BS-IV and new BS-VI auto fuel norms is presence of sulphur. BS-IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, while BS-V and BS-VI grade fuel will have 10 ppm sulphur. Thus, newly introduced BS VI fuel is estimated to reduce amount of sulphur released by 80%.
  • It will also bring down the emission of NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars by nearly 70
  • % and 25% from cars with petrol engines. It will also bring down cancer causing particulate matter emissions from diesel engine cars by 80%.


National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)

  • The National Clean Air Programme is a mid-term, five-year action plan that includes collaborative, multi-scale and cross-sectoral coordination between relevant Central ministries, state governments and local bodies.


  • It 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.
  • Key features and highlights of the programme:
  • The overall objective of the programme includes 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 Environment Ministry has announced a budget of Rs 300 crore for two years to tackle air pollution across 102 cities, which have been identified by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for not meeting the pollution standards set by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
  • Also, city-specific action plans are being formulated for 102 non-attainment cities identified for implementing mitigation actions under NCAP.
  • The Smart Cities programme will be used to launch the NCAP in the 43 smart cities falling in the list of the 102 non-attainment cities.
  • The programme will be institutionalized by respective ministries and will be organized 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.
  • Other features of NCAP include the increasing number of monitoring stations in the country including rural monitoring stations, technology support, emphasis on awareness and capacity building initiatives, setting up of certification agencies for monitoring equipment, source apportionment studies, emphasis on enforcement, and specific sectoral interventions.
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