In News: It has been four years since the Centre launched the National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP), and analysts have found that progress has been slow.
- Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere.
- According to the World Air Quality Report of 2021, India ranked fifth among the most polluted countries in the world.
- The National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) was launched by the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) in 2019 as a long-term, time-bound, national level strategy making determined effort to deal with the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
- Objective: The objective of the NCAP is comprehensive mitigation actions for prevention, control and abatement of air pollution.
- Target: The aim envisaged to achieve targets of 20 to 30 % reduction in Particulate Matter (PM) concentration by 2024 across the country.
- A new updated target of 40% reduction in particulate matter concentration in cities covered under the (NCAP) by 2026 has been set.
- Coverage: NCAP covers 124 Non-Attainment Cities (NACSs) wherein National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) exceeded for 5 consecutive years, along with 8 other million plus cities of Fifteenth Finance Commission- Million Plus Cities Challenge Fund are covered.
- Plans: Under NCAP, city-specific action plans have been prepared which include measures for strengthening the air quality monitoring network, reducing vehicular and industrial emissions, increasing public awareness, etc.
Issues with NCAP
- Lack of comprehensive mechanism to govern air quality management at the city, district, state and regional level/airshed level.
- Lack of any substantive emission load reduction-based approach as no action plan speaks of a cap on the consumption of fossil fuels and its reduced usage, especially in the power and transport sector.
- Lack of transparent data availability on air quality levels across the country in the absence of an adequate air quality monitoring infrastructure, lack of integration of already existing infrastructure.
- Lack of transparency in sharing action plan status reports by cities, states and ministries.
- Airsheds identification: A future roadmap for NCAP will need to expedite the identification of airsheds in the country to formulate and implement airshed-based air quality management.
- Emission database: A National Emissions Database quantifying the emission reduction targets at district/state and national levels, based on emission load should be set up
- Transparent data availability: Data transparency in terms of integration of progress across sectors into the NCAP portal is crucial for public outreach, accountability, and information.
- Penalties: Failure to abide by timelines for conducting various research studies by stakeholders should be penalised.