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What is NCAP? Know all about National Clean Air Plan

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New Delhi: In an attempt to curb the extreme air pollution levels across cities in India, the Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan has released the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). Launching of this programme give recognition to the fact that air pollution is not just a Delhi-specific problem, but affecting cities across India. Before the government of India start the activities under this programme, all you need to know is- What is NCAP?

NCAP launched by Dr Harshvardhan

NCAP is the plan aims to reduce 20-30% of PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations by 2024, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentrations. The NCAP will be a mid-term 5-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. This plan is not being limited to highly polluted cities like, Delhi, Bengaluru, etc., but it is a pan-India plan.

The World Health Organisation's 2018 report says that 14 out of world's most polluted 15 cities are from India. Also Lancet Planetary Health Journal, Lancet Countdown 2018 said that 12,40,000 deaths in 2017 in India were because of air pollution. And out of those 107,000 were due to coal. Many more such facts compelled Indian government to take the initiative toward clean air. And finally NCAP took the shape.

How much fund allocated for NCAP?

The union environment ministry has announced a budget of Rs. 315 crore for 2 years to tackle air pollution across 102 cities, which have been identified by the Central Pollution Control Board for not meeting the pollution standards set up by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change of India.

How it will work and what are the expectation?

NCAP will form a regulatory body. All kinds of sources of pollution - industry, transport, agriculture, domestic, will have to be tackled with in a multi-sectoral approach under NCAP. The NCAP will make a list of action points under each of the key sources of pollution including industrial, transport, agriculture,waste, indoor air pollution, and afforestation.

Read more- For 92 days in 2018, Delhites breathed severely polluted air

Hits and misses of the National Clean Air Plan will depend on how the government will enforce the regulation. Well the success and failure of the plan will be in front of us within five years. Before that let's talk about some facts which you must know about NCAP.

The National Clean Air Plan (NCAP) sets out an approach of cleaning up the air in India's cities, by reducing PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations upto 20-30% by 2024 in 102 non-attainment cities across the country, taking 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentrations.

Mid Term 5 year Action Plan

The NCAP will be a mid-term 5-year action plan with 2019 as the first year. Cities which do not meet pollution standards as per the Ministry of Environment, have been identified as non-attainment cities by the Central Pollution Control board (CPCB). It will proposes adequate and increased monitoring to be in place to be able to determine status and trends of air quality. It will expanding the availability of high quality data related to Air Quality.

Plan is not legally binding

As an action plan, the NCAP is not legally binding. The cities listed are developing their own action plans as part of the NCAP. The value of this plan is strong initiative on state and inter-departmental commitments for action. What remains to be seen will be the action, implementation and co-ordination to make it a big success. At a time when 95% of the country is breathing foul air, strong implementation with time bound results will be key to the effectiveness of the NCAP.

The NCAP is based on scaling up monitoring of air quality across the country. As of now there are only 101 real time Air Quality (AQ) monitors in place across the country. Where as under this action plan number of monitors will be increased beyond 4000.

It will observing high pollution levels across the country

The plan talks of undertaking source apportionment studies and creating a national inventory of causes of air pollution. It proposes studies across 102 non-attainment cities to ascertain pollution sources and extent of their contribution. Commissioning such studies to guide a precise formulation of action plans and establishing a monitoring network are all good steps. Observing the on-going high pollution levels across the country, there is an urgent need for these steps to be expedited. If swift implementation and execution does not happen, the plan will fail to address the crisis the country is currently facing.

Challenges ahead

Driving the action plan could be a big challenge for the government. It will definitely need multiple fold of funds which would be allocated to all the state and UT governments. Finally what all is required is a good coordination between center and states. Also, India will get clean air only if NCAP being kept away from dirty politics.

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