The Narendra Modi government has launched a five-year action plan to tackle pollution across the country. According to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) will tackle “one of the biggest global environmental challenges” in a time-bound manner.
“Overall objective of the NCAP 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,”
Based on safe PM2.5 and PM10 levels as set out by national and international studies, the NCAP will attempt to reduce these levels in the country by 20-30%.
The plan is focusing on 102 “non-attainment” cities in India, including 42 cities that come under the Smart Cities programme. These 102 cities were identified by the Central Pollution Control Board based on their air pollution levels between 2011 and 2015, as they consistently showed pollution levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
The government will also increase the number of air quality monitoring centers across the country, according to the plan.
The draft NCAP was released in April 2018. At the time, it was criticized for not laying down any tangible goals. Through the year, experts argued that the plan document was being diluted further.
Air pollution in India is now widely discussed, usually with reference to the capital city, New Delhi. However, as The Wire has reported earlier, the problem is far more widespread. According to a report released by the World Health Organisation in May 2018, in the list of the 15 most polluted cities in the world, 14 are in India.